New Wisconsin bill would remove same-sex marriage ban

Wisconsin lawmakers are looking to redefine marriage in the state. A group introduced a bill to open marriage to same-sex couples.

The Wisconsin Marriage Equality Act would repeal the same-sex marriage ban added to the state constitution in 2006. It would give same-sex couples access to the same rights as married heterosexual couples.

Will Van Roosenbeek from UW-La Crosse believes everyone deserves the right to get married. 

“I can tell you as someone who was able to get married that being able to share publicly with family and friends really meant a lot more than I thought it was going to mean,” Roosenbeek said.

Democratic Senator Jennifer Shilling thinks that marriage equality is something Wisconsin needs to move towards.

“I think in 2014 attitudes have changed on that, many other states are moving in a direction for marriage equality in their states,” Shilling said.

Shilling says if you look at a map Wisconsin stand alone.

“As you look at the upper Midwest, Wisconsin will be kind of an island with some of our neighboring states moved forward with that,” Shilling said.

With three out of the four border states supporting same-sex marriage, Shilling worries about couples moving away from Wisconsin.

“I have heard stories of loving, committing couples who have decided to marry and move to Minnesota because their recognition of their relationship,” Shilling said.

But not all lawmakers agree with the new bill.

“Do I believe there is a strong motivated effort from those who want to overturn the amendment? I think that there is, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that its going to move in the process right now,” Robin Vos, assembly speaker, said.

Some 59 percent of Wisconsinites approved defining marriage as between a man and woman in 2006. However the latest Marquette Law poll shows 53 percent are in favor of same-sex marriage.

“I don’t think that since we’ve done that less than eight years ago there is a significant shift I just don’t believe that,” Vos said.

Since this would be a change to the state constitution the bill will need to come before the Legislature in this session and the next session, which is 2015. After that it would be a vote by the people of Wisconsin in a state-wide referendum.

Although every Democratic senator signed as co-authors of the bill. The speaker of the house, who is a Republican, doesn’t expect the bill to get a hearing in the assembly.