The ACLU today filed the first marriage equality lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin, which has a unique, if unenforced, law on the books. Via Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:
The litigation seeks not only to overturn the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage, but also to enjoin state official from enforcing a “marriage evasion law” prohibiting couples — gay and straight — from going elsewhere to marry. The penalties of violating the marriage evasion law in Wisconsin, which is the only state to have such a statute, include up to $10,000 in fines and nine months in prison. For Marie Carlson, one-half of one of the couples participating in the lawsuit, the marriage evasion law is of concern as she seeks recognition of her relationship with Charvonne Kemp. “It’s illegal in the state Wisconsin to go another state and get married if you live here,” Carlson said. “I know that it’s not really all that enforced; it’s still something that hangs over your head.” The marriage evasion law is particularly problematic for same-sex couples in Wisconsin because the Obama administration in most cases has elected to recognize same-sex marriages even if the state doesn’t recognize them — provided these couples are able to marry in a jurisdiction that allows it.
Wisconsin legalized domestic partnerships in 2009.