A judge struck down Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage Friday, the same day that the last state ban on same-sex nuptials, in North Dakota, was challenged by a lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said Wisconsin’s ban “violates plaintiffs’ fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection,” adding, “Any Wisconsin statutory provisions … that limit marriages to a ‘husband’ and a ‘wife,’ are unconstitutional as applied to same-sex couples.”
Gay marriages began Friday evening in Wisconsin, according to the Associated Press, which reported that state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen sought an emergency court order to halt them.
Judge Crabb did not issue a stay on her ruling, but she also did not order the state to stop enforcing the gay marriage ban, according to NBC News’ Pete Williams.
Van Hollen said on Twitter that he would appeal the ruling. ”Importantly, current law remains in force. I’m encouraged by the District Court’s refusal to issue an immediate injunction,” he added in another tweet.
Van Hollen also said he expected the Supreme Court to “give finality to this issue in their next term.”
The American Civil Liberties Union in February challenged Wisconsin’s ban, which roughly 60% of state voters approved in 2006, according to the Journal Sentinel. The ACLU suit was filed on behalf of eight same-sex couples in Wisconsin.
“The marriage ban has sent a powerful message that same-sex couples are undeserving of the dignity and important legal protections associated with marriage,” John Knight, an attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project, said in a statement. “Judge Crabb’s decision that same-sex couples are equal under the law sends an entirely different message – one inviting and encouraging fair treatment and respect for these couples.”
Less than a year after the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), setting off an unprecedented period of gains for the gay rights movement, there remains no barrier to same-sex nuptials untouched by litigation. North Dakota’s was the last of 31 remaining state bans in the nation to face a legal challenge.
Wisconsin marks the 14th state where a judge has overturned a gay marriage ban since the DOMA ruling last June, which left the question of same-sex marriage up to the states.
Meanwhile, the Texas Republican Party, which is holding its state convention, advanced a party platform that includes support for so-called “reparative therapy,” which aims to reverse homosexuality in gay people. The party’s full platform is up for a vote on Saturday.
is considering a platform that supports gay conversion therapy, according to The Huffington Post.
But public support for gay marriage continues to grow. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday found that half of Americans believe gay marriage is a constitutional right.