One state lawmaker says it's time to legalize same-sex marriage in WI

MADISON (WITI) -- Illinois and Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage this year -- so could Wisconsin be next? One state lawmaker says it's time, and pledges to push for its passage, but Gov. Scott Walker says not anytime soon.

"We're ready for marriage equality. The Legislature has to catch up at this point," Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D - Milwaukee) said.

Zamarripa is an openly gay member of the Wisconsin Legislature, and she says 2013 represented a shift in gay rights -- one she wants to see reflected in Wisconsin law.

"The majority of Wisconsinites support marriage equality. We elected the first LGBT senator to leadership. It's time now, and I want to take the lead," Rep. Zamarripa said.

Zamarripa says as soon as she believes it is possible, which will likely take Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature, she will propose lifting Wisconsin's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Zamarripa says the momentum is on her side as in 2013, Wisconsin sent the first openly gay U.S. senator to Washington, and the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Pope Francis told Catholics not to focus on the issue -- saying: "Who am I to judge?" And -- two of Wisconsin's neighbors -- Minnesota and Illinois legalized gay marriage.

"We're surrounded by states here in the Midwest that say 'yes' to marriage equality. It really tells us here in Wisconsin, it's time for marriage equality," Rep. Zamarripa said.

Gov. Walker says he hasn't changed his stance on the issue.

"When I ran in 2010, I said the Governor has very little influence. Legally the Governor has no influence -- and what I've said on that and any number of other social issues is I think they're huge distractions from what I was elected to do, which is to help people create more jobs and balance the budget," Gov. Walker said.

Any change in Wisconsin law would have to be passed in to consecutive Legislatures, and then voted on by the people.

Gov. Walker, reacting to last month's decision to legalize gay marriage in Illinois, says it's not happening any time soon in Wisconsin.

"It's not as simple as what they did in terms of changing the statutes. It would actually require a constitutional amendment, so you're talking -- even if everybody wanted to -- and it's still pretty evenly split on this -- you're talking about three years at the minimum," Gov. Walker said.