Wisconsin's Gay Marriage Ban Challenged By ACLU, Heads To Court

The latest battleground for marriage equality may be Wisconsin, as four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit Monday against Governor Scott Walker to overturn the state’s gay marriage ban. While plenty of states have prohibitions on gay marriage, Wisconsin’s is particularly harsh: it not only prevents same-sex couples from getting married, it also sends them to prison if they try and get married in another state. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the gay couples who say the ban violates their constitutional rights.

Two of the plaintiffs, Garth Wangemann and Roy Badger, underwent a particularly harrowing legal battle thanks to the ban. Wangemann was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011, and later put into a medically-induced coma after a botched operation. While his recovery was uncertain, his father sought to take him off life support, even though Badger, who had power of attorney, wanted to keep him alive. Thankfully, Wangemann recovered before his life support could be unplugged.

The ban was approved by 59 percent of Wisconsin voters in 2006, and it carries a $10,000 fine (plus nine months in prison) for couples that seek to circumvent it by getting married in states that do offer equal marriage rights for all couples. State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says that he’ll “vigorously defend it.”