Lawmakers, community leaders react to U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage

MILWAUKEE -- Lawmakers and community leaders throughout Wisconsin are sharing their thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Courts decision saying all same-sex couples have the right to marry.  In a landmark 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

The written statements of lawmakers and community leaders are as follows:

Gov. Scott Walker

“I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges ‘has been with us for millennia.’ In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas. As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.

“Recognizing that our Founders made our Constitution difficult to amend, I am reminded that it was first amended to protect our ‘First Freedom’ - the free exercise of religion. The First Amendment does not simply protect a narrow ‘right to worship,’ but provides broad protection to individuals and institutions to worship and act in accordance with their religious beliefs. In fact, the Wisconsin constitution explicitly protects the rights of conscience of our citizens. I can assure all Wisconsinites concerned about the impact of today’s decision that your conscience rights will be protected, and the government will not coerce you to act against your religious beliefs.

“I call on the president and all governors to join me in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs. No one wants to live in a country where the government coerces people to act in opposition to their conscience. We will continue to fight for the freedoms of all Americans.”

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

"This is an historic end to Pride Month and an incredible bookend to what happened one year ago when we celebrated history at the Milwaukee County Courthouse as same sex couples of all ages, races, and religions said ‘I do.’ Today’s ruling is another step forward for love and equality. While I am extremely thrilled with the ruling, I will continue to do what I’ve been doing for more than 20 years - fight for equality and the fair treatment of all people. Across Milwaukee County government we remain focused on fostering an inclusive and diverse culture, where every employee is accepted, valued, respected, and treated fairly."

Rep. Glen Grothman (R)

“I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision today to overturn same-sex marriage laws around the country,” said Congressman Grothman. “This would have been unthinkable 20 years ago, and as recently as three years ago President Obama said he was opposed to same-sex marriage. The American people are more than capable of making these decisions, just like we did in Wisconsin in 2006. Unfortunately, five Supreme Court justices clearly do not believe in the original intent of the 14th amendment as it was ratified in 1868. The contempt these Supreme Court justices have for the intent of our Constitution is shocking. This decision was partially influenced by recent public opinion, but the Constitution, as well as religious beliefs, should not change at the whim of public opinion.”

Rep. Ron Kind (D)

“This is another step forward to ensure fairness and equality under the law for all citizens. Throughout my 20-year marriage to Tawni, I’ve learned that our love and support for each other makes both of us stronger. Now every legally married couple will have the comfort of knowing their unions will be treated equally under the law, regardless of where they live.”

Jason Rae, Exec. Director of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

“Today love won.

“Not only did the US Supreme Court affirm the right of all of people to marry who they love, the Court also paved the way to help strengthen our nation’s economy. At the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, we are incredibly excited about the economic impact that this decision will have for our members, for our state, and for our nation’s economy as a whole.

“The immediate benefits of marriage equality provide millions of dollars of stimulus to local businesses, but the short-term benefits do not even begin to tell the whole story.  These new marriages create families in Wisconsin, and now the entire country, that will have a lasting, observable impact on our economy.

“The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber was proud to file an amicus curiae in the Obergefell v. Hodges case discussing how marriage equality would positively impact the business community.

“We heard from our business members that the patchwork of inconsistent state marriage laws made it harder and more costly for them to recruit and retain talented employees, and to administer benefits systems. Quite simply, this burdened businesses by costing them both time and money. Today’s decision helps eliminate that burden on businesses and makes it easier for companies to recruit and retain diverse talent.

“As Wisconsin’s LGBT families continue to grow and prosper, so too will our state economy.  We know that this decision today will translate into a positive force for our economy and local businesses.“

Russ Feingold 

"Today's ruling affirms a clear constitutional principle: that same-sex couples must have access to the same rights, privileges and benefits afforded to everyone else, and that includes marriage.

"Nearly 20 year ago, I opposed discrimination by voting against the Defense of Marriage Act. Today, in 2015, I'm happy that our friends, neighbors, and family members in Wisconsin and across the country will always have the right to marry the one they love, no matter where they call home. Discrimination has no place in our laws.

"This victory is a credit to the members and allies of the gay community who never gave up - who helped change both laws and minds to affirm America's fundamental beliefs in equality and love."We know the fight for equality isn't over yet, but together we'll continue to strive for equal standing, under the law, for all Americans."

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D)

“Love is love, family is family, and discriminating against anyone’s love, against anyone’s family, is simply wrong. America can proudly say that discrimination doesn’t just violate our values – it violates our Constitution. And now we can proudly say that marriage equality will be the law of the land.

“Today’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court is a huge victory for freedom, fairness and equality in America. This is a historic step forward for America, where every family’s love and commitment will now be recognized and respected under the law. This reaffirms our nation’s founding belief that all Americans are created equal under the law. It’s about fairness – about whether gay and lesbian Americans deserve to be treated just like their family members, their friends, and their neighbors. It’s about opportunity – about whether every American gets to dream the same dreams, chase the same ambitions, and have the same shot at success. And it’s about freedom – the freedom to love, the freedom to commit, and the freedom to build a family.

“I believe America is ready to take the next step forward and there is more work to be done to advance the cause of equality in America. I remain committed to continuing this march of progress with a growing number of Americans to pass on to the next generation a nation that realizes the promise of full equality for every American.”

St. Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D - Milwaukee)

“The fight has finally concluded for LGBT Americans and we are victorious on the issue of marriage equality,” Rep. Zamarripa said.  “I applaud the Supreme Court in arriving at this landmark decision and ensuring equal opportunity and freedom for all people who want to live their lives in the unity of marriage with the person they love the most.  This is a historic moment for our country’s LGBT community.”

St. Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D - Beloit)

“Make no mistake, this decision is about love, family, and equality,” Rep. Spreitzer said. “Today, the Supreme Court recognized what a majority of Wisconsinites already knew: that hard-working Americans have a fundamental right to marry and raise a family with the people they love, regardless of sexual orientation. This is a great day for Wisconsin, for the LGBT community, and for all Americans. Today’s ruling will only serve to strengthen all of America’s families.”

St. Sen. Tim Carpenter (D - Milwaukee)

With its ruling today, the court recognized that the government should not erect barriers in front of two people who are willing to undertake the rights and responsibilities of the ultimate expression of love and commitment - marriage.  The decision today affords LGBT families the dignity and protections all families deserve under the law,” said Sen. Carpenter.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning

"Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that makes marriage equality the law of the land is a sweeping and historic victory for fairness and for the rights of every American to have the opportunity to marry the person they love.

"Love is love, and I'm thrilled that same-sex couples all over the country will have their families recognized as equal in our communities and will enjoy the same protections under the law that my husband and I do."

St. Sen. Chris Larson (D)

“Today, love wins once again nationwide for all Americans. The right to marry the person you love is a basic freedom that should not be denied to anyone. All of our neighbors should have the opportunity to live their lives freely and happily with equal protection under the law.

“While Gov. Walker and Wisconsin Republicans have, in the past, time and again callously fought to deny marriage equality in our state, Wisconsin Democrats have been proud to join people across Wisconsin and all around the nation, standing tall in the face of continued moral injustice.

“With today’s decision, ideological forces nationwide will no longer be able to promote inequality, foster discrimination, or unconstitutionally limit our rights and freedoms over who we choose to marry. The Supreme Court’s decision says equality, fairness, and the freedom to love and marry whomever you want is guaranteed to all Americans. This is a victory for our nation’s morality and supports the shared values our nation was founded on. Today, is truly a day to celebrate and one that will be remembered as a day of justice for the rest of our nation’s history.”

Rep. Gwen Moore (D) 

“This decision by the Supreme Court marks a truly historic day for our country. As the debate for marriage equality in America comes to an end, I am proud to say that dignity and love have won. As a member of the Congressional Equality Caucus, I am delighted to celebrate this great victory with our nation’s LGBT brothers and sisters.

"As we commemorate this joyous occasion, let us also recognize that discrimination and intolerance still exist and that our fight for equality will continue until we’ve secured full and equal protections for all LGBT Americans."

Scott Gunkel, President of Milwaukee Pride, Inc.

"Today, the United States Supreme Court held with a long-standing tradition to make ours a more just and equal society. As we celebrate this tremendous victory for same-sex couples across the country, we also must recognize that the fight for LGBT civil rights does not end with marriage.

"It is now time for Wisconsinites to stand up and say that hate and discrimination have no place, anywhere, in our state constitution."

St. Sen. Mark Miller


St. Rep. Mandela Barnes (D)

"Today’s rulings reaffirms that every American – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – deserve the same freedom and opportunity as everyone else to pursue happiness in marriage to the one they love.

"While we celebrate this momentous victory, it is equally important to reflect on how much work remains to ensure that true freedom in our nation means freedom and equality for everyone, with no exceptions.

"I will continue to work diligently towards a state and a nation that allows all of our neighbors and families to live their lives freely and securely.  The means having equal protections under our laws and constitution, but also having equal opportunities to earn a living for their families, be safe in their communities, and achieve true health and happiness in their lives."

Karen Gotzler, Exec. Director for Milwaukee LGBT Center

"Today, as we celebrate a step forward for one of the rights the LGBTQ community has strived to achieve, opening marriage to over 1 million same-sex couples, we must also pause to acknowledge those unable to celebrate with us today."

Michael Gifford, ARCW President and Chief Executive Officer 

"We live in a better world now than the one we woke up in this morning."

"Today, the Supreme Court settled once and for all that states cannot ban same sex individuals from marrying. This transformative decision for equality is long overdue and helps ensure the ability of all people to better and more fully participate in our communities and our nation."

"Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, we know that discrimination and prejudice -- regardless of who is the target of these terrible actions -- harm our families, friends and neighbors in societal, interpersonal and economic ways. Discrimination also harms their health. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in the HIV epidemic among gay men."

"Of the 8,000 men and women living with HIV disease in Wisconsin, more than half are gay men. For too long, LGBTQ people have been discriminated against and marginalized, making it harder for them to access the education, health care and social services they need to live a long and healthy life including remaining HIV free."

"The pursuit of a world without AIDS is a noble journey along a difficult path. As we traverse the pathway to achieve that goal we must overcome discrimination so that everyone who needs access to HIV prevention, care and treatment can secure it. Today's decision by the Supreme Court is a monumental step along our path."

"The preamble of the United States Constitution calls upon us to form a 'more perfect Union.' Today the Supreme Court did just that."