Criminalizing Same-Sex Marriage

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The  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  had an interesting story (here) last week with a warning for Wisconsin same-sex couples who are contemplating going to California to marry: Wisconsin makes it a crime for its residents to go across state lines and enter into a marriage that is prohibited or void under Wisconsin law:a category that includes same-sex marriages. This crime is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000, imprisonment of not more than 9 months, or both. (For those interested in reading the statute, it is Wis. Stat. sec. 765.30. The Wisconsin ban on same-sex marriage can be found in Wis. Const. art. XIII, sec. 13.) The story reports that other states have criminal penalties, too; however, the marriage project director for Lambda Legal indicates in the story that Wisconsin’s is the stiffest.

So, Wisconsin not only refuses to recognize its residents’ out-of-state same-sex marriages, but it also adds insult to injury by reserving the right to put Wisconsin same-sex couples in jail for attempting to marry. The existence of this law has apparently discouraged some Wisconsin same-sex couples that had planned California weddings from following through; however, when told about the ban, one individual replied,”I’d rather be prosecuted than persecuted.”

-Anthony C. Infanti

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