Same-sex couples hail court's marriage ruling, but effect in Wisconsin remains unclear

2013-06-27T05:45:00Z Same-sex couples hail court's marriage ruling, but effect in Wisconsin remains unclearMATTHEW DeFOUR | Wisconsin State Journal | mdefour@madison.com | 608-252-6144 madison.com

Josh Feyen and his husband eagerly were anticipating the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, but Wednesday’s historic decision left Feyen “elated and disappointed all at the same point.”

The Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, granting federal benefits to married couples in 12 states that recognize same-sex marriage. Although Wisconsin isn’t one of them, the ruling prompted a rally of support Wednesday on Capitol Square.

The court also chose not to issue a broad ruling on a separate case involving same-sex marriage in California. The decision leaves intact Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman, and it’s unclear whether the decision would sway public attitudes here.

Feyen and Jay Edgar were married in a local private religious ceremony and they signed up for the state’s domestic partnership registry, but unless they get legally married in a state such as Iowa or Minnesota, they won’t qualify for the same federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples.

Even if they do get married in a different state and live in Wisconsin, they may have fewer rights than couples who live in states that recognize same-sex marriage, as some benefits depend on where a couple live.

Still, Feyen took the rulings as part of the continuing evolution of the public’s orientation on same-sex marriage.

“This could be that rallying cry, that momentous occasion that makes history and spurs the marginal states toward marriage equality,” Feyen said.

Opponents of same-sex marriage highlighted the California Prop 8 ruling, which effectively allows same-sex marriage in that state, but didn’t wipe out marriage amendments in Wisconsin and other states.

“We are very glad that the door has been left wide open for the public discourse and debate on this issue to continue and states are not forced by judicial fiat to redefine marriage,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action.

Appling also said the ruling would not affect their case challenging the state’s domestic partnership registry.

Both Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said through spokespeople Wednesday the ruling has no direct impact on Wisconsin or on Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment, which states: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, concurred with that assessment in a press release saying because he lives in Wisconsin, a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, his marriage will not be affected by the court’s ruling.

“While my husband, Phil, and I continue to wait to have our marriage recognized by both Wisconsin and Washington, I am now more confident than ever that full marriage equality is a question not of if, but when,” Pocan said.

Advocates cheered the decision to strike down DOMA but acknowledged it was unclear if couples who wed in states where same-sex marriage is legal could get federal benefits in Wisconsin.

About 250 people circled the Capitol just before 6 p.m. Wednesday to celebrate the decision. They waved rainbow banners, chanted “gay, straight, black, white, marriage equality is a civil right” and sang lines from “Chapel of Love.” Many in the crowd gathering for Concerts on the Square stood and applauded.

Among those marching, kissing and crying were Kristin Martin and Lori Miller, who were engaged on New Year’s Eve. Though they want to get married in Wisconsin, the ruling makes it more likely they’ll get married in Iowa, where their marriage would be recognized by the federal government.

Also celebrating was Anna Frackman, 23, whose two mothers have been together more than 30 years but have never been married. She predicts the ruling will lead to more states changing their position on same-sex marriage in the near future.

“As many things as are going to change after this ruling, the one thing that won’t is our families,” Frackman said. “The amount we love each other has always been the same.”

Katie Belanger, executive director of Fair Wisconsin, said the group would continue its effort to overturn the state’s marriage amendment, which would require two consecutive Legislatures passing a constitutional amendment and a majority of voters approving it in an election. That same process was used to pass the marriage amendment in 2006.

The implications of the ruling are convoluted because of the wide range of federal benefits afforded to married couples, from filing joint tax returns to expediting the naturalization process.

The tax return issue is complicated because Wisconsin uses federal tax return information as part of the state return, said Pete Oettinger, a CPA with Wegner CPAs in Madison. Working married couples can qualify for up to a $480 tax credit.

The Department of Revenue wasn’t certain Wednesday if the state would have to have a separate form to allow legally married same-sex couples to file jointly on their federal returns, but separately on state returns, spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said.

The court did not strike down the part of DOMA that says states don’t have to recognize same-sex marriages sanctioned in other states, said Andrew Coan, a UW Law School associate professor and expert on constitutional law. But he noted President Barack Obama and the federal agencies will have to determine whether benefits such as social security or estate tax exemptions will extend to all legally married couples.

“If they decide not to recognize those couples, there would likely be further litigation,” Coan said.

Copyright 2015 madison.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. TheRestOfTheStory
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    TheRestOfTheStory - June 27, 2013 4:00 pm
    You, being name for the side of your party, would not see any misinformation in such a conservative site. Nor would you see any misinformation in Fox News, I'd guess. I'm assuming you're also not seeing any spin in either of these sites?

    The fact is that Federal law trumps State law. If people are married in a state that allows it then they are still married in another state that doesn't. That's been discussed on more reputable sites that Heritage.

    Show me you 50 states quotes on any other site and I'll take a look at it.
  2. Right
    Report Abuse
    Right - June 27, 2013 1:39 pm
    RestOfTheStory, I see no misinformation in the Heritage post. If you see any misinformation there please enlighten us. It is complete intellectual suicide to discount facts base on who is speaking those facts. The fact is, the supreme courts decision has not changed any states marriage laws. The fact remains regardless of proclaims it.
  3. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - June 27, 2013 12:14 pm
    Want it or not, I believe that's what we already HAVE.

    Article 4 on the US Constitution deals with how the states will operate, and it kicks right off in Section 1 with this: "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof."
  4. Wis_taxpayer
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    Wis_taxpayer - June 27, 2013 11:37 am
    "50" The number of States that will be required to recognize same sex marriage.... it's just a matter of time, and one more court ruling away. Just like all 50 states were required by the federal Government to recognize marriages of mixed race couples..... history is simply repeating itself. No different than requiring all states to recognize a driver's license from the state it was issued.

    This new reality is what is making the right wing heads explode, they have lived in their own right wing news and media world for so long being fed misinformation, as well as outright lies that they just can't wrap their heads around not only the changing demographics of this country, but the progressive attitudes of a center left country.

    Listening to their news and information sites you would think we are back in the 50's & 60's again trying to make an argument for suppressing minorities.... no wonder this is such a shock to them.

    Funny thing... if you tuned in to right wing news land on the day the court struck down the voting rights act section 5 you would have heard how the court was acting in accordance with the will of the people, and how progressive the court was being as it recognized our changing times.

    Then yesterday, when it struck down DOMA and Prop 8 all you heard on these same sites is that this is a liberal activist court imposing it's beliefs on the rest of the country. "5 men in black robes just condemned our country"

    Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.... that's called hypocrisy.

  5. BAS
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    BAS - June 27, 2013 11:36 am
    By this same logic, if Utah decided to allow polygamist marriages, the other 49 states would have to recognize that marriage. Or, if one state allows 14 year olds to marry it sounds like every other state would have to recognize the marriage. Is this what we really want?
  6. TheRestOfTheStory
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    TheRestOfTheStory - June 27, 2013 8:26 am
    Try referencing a no so blatant conservative site next time you're looking for edification. Try looking around and see if other sites agree first. If you only get your information from Fox and Heritage then I understand now you're many one line comments.
  7. Lynne4300
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    Lynne4300 - June 27, 2013 8:08 am
    "50 The number of states whose marriage laws remain the same after the Court’s marriage decisions."


  8. johnnybragatti
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    johnnybragatti - June 27, 2013 8:03 am
    They should require passports,U.S. issued,for, travel between the United States.
  9. Robert James
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    Robert James - June 27, 2013 6:19 am
    Of course it can. It's only a "States' issue" today. There are plenty of examples of laws passed at the Federal level that forced states to modify or drop laws on their own books that promoted or protected discriminatory behavior. The most relevant example is the Loving v. Virginia (1967) which forced the repeal of laws restricting interracial marriage in 15 states. In fact, it is very likely that a similar decision will be made by the courts before the states (like Wisconsin) that already have amendments as opposed to laws will repeal their own discriminatory practices.
  10. 196ski
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    196ski - June 26, 2013 10:00 pm
    A case cannot be made "to force all states to recognize gay marriage".

    Suppose 40 States supported concealed carry, could a case be made for forcing all States to support concealed carry? No because it is a States issue.
  11. Wis_taxpayer
    Report Abuse
    Wis_taxpayer - June 26, 2013 8:44 pm
    This is the next lawsuit that will be brought before the Supreme Court. Think about it..... if you're married in Wisconsin and you move to Utah, and the State of Utah tells you "we don't recognize any marriages from Wisconsin", so in Utah you're not married!

    Now that Gay couples have the same rights in 13 states as heterosexual couples do, a case can be made to force all states to recognize gay marriage, if it's performed in a state that has made it legal. Just like every state has to recognize any marriage from any of the 50 states.
  12. RatKiller
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    RatKiller - June 26, 2013 5:55 pm

    "unless they get legally married in a state such as Iowa or Minnesota, they won't qualify for the same federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples.

    And even if they do get married in a different state and reside in Wisconsin, they may have fewer rights than couples who live in states that recognize same-sex marriage as some benefits depend on where a couple lives."
    I don't see what's unclear about the effect this will have on WI or other states that are treating gays and lesbians as second class citizens. They will take their money and their business to a friendlier climate. Forward? Not since Walker has been governor.

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