In all of the house hoopla over the weekend, I completely missed the great news out of Wisconsin last week!
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb held that the Wisconsin ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. In her 88-page opinion (88 pages!), Crabb dismantles the State’s arguments to keep its gay marriage ban.
And while I traditionally give my takeaways from these decisions, I wanted to do something a little different this time. Crabb wrote such a great opinion, I want to let her words speak for themselves and give my 10 favorite quotes.
“In reaching this decision, I do not mean to disparage the legislators and citizens who voted in good conscience for the marriage amendment…Rather, it is necessary to conclude only that the state may not intrude without adequate justification on certain fundamental decisions made by individuals and that, when the state does impose restrictions on these important matters, it must do so in an even-handed manner.” Pg 3.
“This case is not about whether marriages between same-sex couples are consistent or inconsistent with the teachings of a particular religion, whether such marriages are moral or immoral or whether they are something that should be encouraged or discouraged. It is not even about whether the plaintiffs in this case are as capable as opposite-sex couples of maintaining a committed and loving relationship or raising a family together. Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution.” Pg. 3-4.
“In doing this, courts do not ‘endorse’ marriage between same-sex couples, but merely affirm that those couples have rights to liberty and equality under the Constitution, just as heterosexual couples do.” Pg 4.
“States may not ‘experiment’ with different social policies by violating constitutional rights.” Pg.18.
“There is no asterisk next to the Fourteen Amendment that excludes gay persons from its protections.” Pg 21.
“In the past, many believed that racial mixing was just as unnatural and antithetical to marriage as amici believe homosexuality is today.” Pg 37.
“Rather than asking whether a person could change a particular characteristic, the better question is whether the characteristic is something that the person should be required to change because it is central to a person’s identity. Of course, even if one could change his or her race or sex with ease, it is unlikely that courts (or virtually anyone else) would find that race or sex discrimination is any more acceptable than it is now.” Pg. 56.
“As an initial matter, defendants and amici have overstated their argument. Throughout history, the most “traditional” form of marriage has not been between one man and one woman, but between one man and multiple women, which presumably is not a tradition that defendants and amici would like to continue.” Pg 67.
“The rejection of these inequalities by later generations shows that sometimes a tradition may endure because of unexamined assumptions about a particular class of people rather than because the laws serve the community as a whole.” Pg 69.
“First, and most important, the task of this court is to address the claim presented and not to engage in speculation about issues not raised that may or may not arise at some later time in another case.” Pg. 82.
“Because my review of that law convinces me that plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple, I conclude that the Wisconsin laws banning marriage between same-sex couples are unconstitutional.” Pg 86.
Obviously, it’s impossible to capture the full strength of such a long and well-reasoned opinion in a few quotes. But I hope it gives you a sense of the Judge’s powerful words and the real momentum these kinds of decisions provide. You can read the entire ruling here.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel….can you?