lawmakers approve same-sex marriage ban

            lawmakers approve same-sex marriage ban

The Wisconsin
state senate approved an amendment to ban same-sex marriage
and Vermont-style civil unions on Wednesday over objections
that it could strip unmarried couples of health care
benefits and other legal recognitions. Supporters
countered that those concerns are overblown and
maintained that the amendment would ensure marriage in
Wisconsin would remain a union between one man and one
woman while allowing room for future lawmakers to
grant limited benefits to unmarried couples.

The amendment
prevents "judges or the state from creating marriage in
another name and granting identical benefits" to unmarried
couples, according to amendment sponsor Sen.
Scott Fitzgerald.

The senate voted
19–14 to approve the amendment, leaving only a vote
in the assembly before the proposal could go to the
public for a final vote. The assembly is expected
to pass it easily after the first of the year, with an
expected statewide referendum in November.

Wisconsin law
already defines marriage as a union between a man and a
wife. The proposed amendment states: "Only a marriage
between one man and one woman shall be valid or
recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status
identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for
unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in
this state."

Much of
Wednesday's debate centered on the second sentence. Sen. Tim
Carpenter, one of two out gay state lawmakers, tried to
alter the amendment to strip that language,
maintaining it would have effects far beyond its
intended purpose. That includes threatening the ability of
unmarried couples to visit partners in the hospital and
restricting their inheritance rights and their access
to health care benefits.

After lawmakers
rejected those moves, Carpenter proposed amendments to
prohibit divorcees and adulterers from marrying, which he
argued was a much greater threat to the institution of
marriage than a union between two gay people. "The
second sentence creates second-class citizens," said
Carpenter. (AP)

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