MADISON, Wis. — A U.S. appeals court ruled Thursday that same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana violate the U.S. Constitution. Here are five things to know about the ruling:
WHAT DID THE APPEALS COURT SAY ABOUT WISCONSIN?
The court called Wisconsin's ban arbitrary, saying it enshrines discrimination in the state constitution. The judges rejected the state's argument that marriage between a man and a woman is tradition, saying tradition can't be a lawful ground for discrimination. There are "bad traditions that are historical realities such as cannibalism, foot-binding, and suttee, and traditions that from a public-policy standpoint are neither good nor bad — such as trick-or-treating on Halloween," it said. "Tradition per se therefore cannot be a lawful ground for discrimination-regardless of the age of the tradition."
WHAT DID THE COUPLES SAY?
Johannes Wallmann and Keith Borden of Madison, one of the eight Wisconsin couples who sued to overturn the ban, were elated. "It's huge," Wallmann said. "This provides clarity for us." Milwaukee residents Garth Wangemann and Roy Badger, another couple who sued, expressed caution, given that the issue won't be finally decided until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. "There might be a little bit of celebrating," Wangemann said. "But I don't think it will be to the extent it was back on June 6," when a federal judge in Madison first declared the state ban as unconstitutional.
WHAT DID OTHER OPPONENTS OF THE LAW SAY?
Praise for the ruling came from same-sex couples who challenged the law, Democrats and others who opposed the law. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, both of whom are gay, hailed the ruling. The decision "is yet another affirmation that discrimination doesn't just violate our Wisconsin values — it violates our Constitution and marriage equality will be the law of the land in our state," Baldwin said.
HOW DID THE STATE AND SUPPORTERS OF THE BAN RESPOND?
Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen promised to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who was a strong advocate for the ban in 2006 but recently has said that his opinion doesn't matter, referred all questions to Van Hollen. Julaine Appling, head of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action, which led the campaign in 2006 to adopt the constitutional amendment, called the ruling "wrong-headed" and "very dangerous." ''What they just legalized is not marriage," Appling said. "It's something else."