Home > Ban Details >
How could it harm us (legally)?
The ramifications of this ban are frightening and far reaching. No one can answer what its
full impact will be until its in place and already doing damage to families of all types
LGBT and straight.
Below are a few legal questions that have been answered as best as possible at this time.
To the right you will find copies of letters from legal professionals around Wisconsin against
the ban along with their reasons why.
What would the amendment do?
It would change Wisconsin's constitution for the first time to take away rights from a group of people, explicitly forbidding the Legislature and Wisconsin courts from ever creating gay marriage or civil unions (as they have in Vermont) or comprehensive domestic partnership (as in California). The amendment goes far beyond a ban on gay marriage, and will have many harmful consequences, some of them unintended. If the amendment passes, it could not be appealed to Wisconsin courts, and could only be undone by passing another amendment or action by the US Supreme Court, both of which would likely take decades to happen.
What are some of the legal protections this amendment denies Wisconsin families?
There are more than one-thousand rights and responsibilities at the state and federal level that come with civil marriage. Hundreds of state protections come from civil unions or comprehensive domestic partnership (as practiced in Vermont and California, for example), which are also banned by this constitutional amendment. Local families who get their health insurance through domestic partner programs in Milwaukee, Madison, Sun Prairie, La Crosse and Dane County could lose their coverage. The amendment bans other critical rights and responsibilities that come with marriage and civil unions, like hospital visitation, being able to share earned health and retirement benefits, bereavement leave, joint custody of children - even the right to be buried next to one's partner.
How will Wisconsin's constitutional amendment effect domestic partner benefits at private employers like Miller Brewing, Northwestern Mutual Financial Services, American Family Insurance, SBC, GE Medical, etc?
Nobody knows for sure, since the courts will take years to decide what a "status identical or substantially similar" to marriage means. Private employers will likely have more freedom to treat all employees equally than local and state governments.
How will unmarried couples be affected by the amendment?
Most of the people who get domestic partner health insurance at local governments in Wisconsin are unmarried heterosexuals. These people will lose their health insurance just like same-sex domestic partners. While heterosexuals can marry, many have more than philosophical reasons to not marry, such as widow/ers who would lose their Social Security survivor benefits when they remarry. The amendment goes so far that it is impossible to predict the ultimate damage. For example, a man in Utah used that state's anti-marriage amendment to say he was not subject to a restraining order filed by his girlfriend since according to the amendment their unmarried relationship has no legal status.