Wisconsin and Minnesota on opposite trails for gay marriage - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wisconsin and Minnesota on opposite trails for gay marriage

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MADISON (WKOW)-- A gay marriage bill is quickly moving through the Minnesota legislature. Both the senate and Governor Mark Dayton are likely to approve it this week. One state over in Wisconsin, many wonder if a similar bill will someday pass here.

In many ways the two states are quite similar, geographically, socially, and economically, but in terms of gay marriage the two states couldn't be more different.

"Last year in Minnesota they defeated an amendment to their constitution that would have banned same sex marriage. We had a very similar amendment pop up in 2006 which did pass," Ryan Petty of OutReach says.

59% of Wisconsin voters were in favor of the amendment, making the road to passing gay marriage significantly longer.

"It's a complicated long process," First Wisconsin Executive Director Katie Belanger says.

First, the legislature would have to repeal the marriage ban in two consecutive sessions. The issue would then go back on the ballot for Wisconsin voters . Then the legislature could propose a gay marriage bill which would require a majority vote and the governor's approval.

"The other route that could also happen is with several of the cases before the US Supreme Court right now," Petty says.

However, gay marriage advocates say it's unlikely a ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act or Proposition Eight will make a difference.

"Those don't look like they're going to be impacting states like Wisconsin," Belanger says.

Besides having an amendment standing in their way, gay marriage advocates also face a tougher challenge politically in Wisconsin, with a Republican house, senate and governor.  In Minnesota it's the complete opposite with the Democrats controlling all three political bodies.

"I think we have a little big of catch up to play, but I think we'll be right there eventually," Belanger says.

Gay marriage advocates say because of the constitutional amendment in Wisconsin it would take five years at best to pass gay marriage, but they say it will likely take even longer than that.

 

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