ACLU asks judge to block Wisconsin's gay marriage ban

MADISON (WITI) -- The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday, February 27th, asked a federal judge to temporarily block Wisconsin's gay marriage ban as they wait for the court to hear their lawsuit.

The ACLU's lawsuit says the ban is unconstitutional. If granted, the preliminary injunction would invalidate the ban for the time being.

Gay marriage was banned in a constitutional amendment, by a statewide referendum, in 2006. Since then, it's been an uncontested law.

The ACLU and four gay couples challenged the law earlier this month.

"My partner and I are law-abiding citizens. We're not setting out to disobey laws in Wisconsin. We love each other very much and we want the freedom to marry -- and we're not going to break the law in Wisconsin to do that," said Judi Trampf, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit argues that 17 states allow same-sex couples to marry and that the ban deprives them of the legal protections that married couples receive simply because of their sexual orientation.

Currently, same-sex couples who live in Wisconsin and leave the state to get married could face jail time and up to a $10,000 fine when they return.

If a judge approves the request, experts say gay couples will be able to apply for marriage certificates right away.

"I think they have a pretty good shot given what's happening elsewhere around the country on this issue," said UW-Madison political science professor Donald Downs.

Experts say it could become a sticky situation if the judge allows gay couples to marry and then the ACLU loses the lawsuit. Downs says in some cases, states have invalidated the marriages that were already performed.

The hearing to determine if the marriage ban will be temporarily lifted is at the end of March.

A spokeswoman for the State Justice Department, which is defending the ban, said the agency will respond in court.