U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb will hear arguments on March 27 on a request to temporarily bar enforcement of Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion Thursday night seeking a preliminary injunction that would stay in place until there is a final decision in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban. The national and Milwaukee offices of the ACLU filed that lawsuit Feb. 3 on behalf of four couples. Defendants include Gov. Scott Walker and other government officials.
In seeking the preliminary injunction, the ACLU argues that the marriage ban imposes "irreparable harm" on its clients by denying them access to federal and state protections and benefits.
The ACLU also on Thursday filed an amended brief adding four couples to the lawsuit. One of these couples, Kami Young and Karina Willes of Milwaukee, is expecting a child in April. Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, said in an interview that under current Wisconsin law Willes, who is not the biological mother, will not be recognized by the state as the baby's parent.
"Karina will have no legal connection whatsoever to the baby," according to the brief. "In fact, as far as the law is concerned, Karina and the baby will be strangers."
If their marriage were recognized, continues the brief, "Karina would automatically be recognized as the baby's parent pursuant to Wisconsin law's presumption of parenthood for children born to married couples."
The Department of Justice, which is defending the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, has until March 21 to file any responding briefs to Crabb. DOJ spokesperson Dana Brueck had no comment. "We'll respond in court," she said.
Dupuis says the ACLU is also seeking the injunction on behalf of couples who, because they have married in states where same-sex marriage is legal, are subject to prosecution because of an obscure Wisconsin law that makes it a criminal offense for a resident to leave the state to enter a marriage that is prohibited in Wisconsin.
In 2006 Wisconsin voters passed an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage and civil unions.
The ACLU's efforts to block the ban follow efforts in other states to invalidate similar bans. Just this week, a federal judge struck down Texas' ban. The momentum for overturning these measures has grown since the United States Supreme Court invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act in its 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor.