Wisconsin legislature passes marriage ban
November 07 2003 1:00 AM ET
The Wisconsin state legislature has sent a bill defining marriage as a contract between a man and a woman to Gov. Jim Doyle, who says he opposes the measure because it is divisive and duplicates an existing law. Supporters say the bill, approved 22-10 by the senate late Wednesday night, would ensure that gay marriage will not be allowed or recognized in Wisconsin. The assembly approved the bill last month 68-29, and it now goes to Doyle for his review. "This bill is just designed to try and divide people, just try to anger people, and I don't think this is good for Wisconsin," Doyle said. An override of a Doyle veto would require a two-thirds majority in each house, meaning 66 votes in the assembly and 22 in the senate--numbers that were achieved in the passage of the bill.
Wisconsin law already defines marriage as a contract between a husband and wife. But supporters claim judges could interpret that language loosely and redefine marriage to allow gay couples to wed. State senator Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, said the legislation sends a clear message to Wisconsin judges that lawmakers intend marriage to be reserved for heterosexual couples. The bill has outraged gay and lesbian groups, who say state law already makes it clear they cannot marry and that the legislation is meant only to antagonize them.
The legislation would also require that only marriages between a man and a woman would be recognized as valid under Wisconsin law, regardless of the laws governing marriage in the jurisdiction where the marriage was approved.
State senator Tim Carpenter, a Milwaukee Democrat and the only openly gay member of the state senate, said the bill seems like an attack on gays and sends a message that they are not welcome in Wisconsin. "It's unnecessary. It's hurtful. It's divisive, and it gets nothing done," Carpenter said.