NEW: Couples Bring Same Sex Marriage Lawsuit Against Governor, State
For the City-Times
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the law firm of Mayer Brown filed a federal lawsuit today against Governor Scott Walker and other state leaders on behalf of four same-sex couples who wish to marry in Wisconsin or are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages.
The plaintiffs include Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann of Milwaukee, who have been partners for 37 years. Three years ago Wangemann suffered from cancer and while in a temporary medically-induced coma, his life partner’s authority over Wangemann’s medical care was called into question by the family, though Wangemann recovered before any legal action could be taken.
“What upset me the most was that after all of our time together, our relationship was not fully recognized by my family and there was a real danger that my wish to give Roy the ability to make decisions about my care could be stripped away,” Wangemann said. “Thankfully, our wishes held in this case. But without the protections that come with marriage, the consequences can literally be a matter of life or death.”
Other plaintiffs in the case are Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf of Eau Claire; Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson of Milwaukee; and Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning of Madison.
According to the complaint, Wisconsin’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents them from securing the hundreds of protections that state law provides to married couples. The suit claims the Wisconsin law subjects same-sex couples to “an additional harm that is unique among states that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry”.
“These families simply want the security and recognition that only marriage provides,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “They have built their lives and raised children here. It is wrong for the state to treat these loving and committed couples as second-class citizens, and it is cruel to place them in a catch-22 where they can’t even travel elsewhere to obtain federal protections without their marriage being labeled a crime.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on Monday.
“More and more Americans over the past few years accept the idea that same-sex couples and their families shouldn’t be treated differently than other families,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is our hope that Wisconsin will soon join the other 17 states in granting the freedom to marry.”
More information on this case can be found at: www.aclu-wi.org
More information on the ACLU’s Out for Freedom campaign can be found here.