Jun 9, 201409:12 AMVan Lines
with Joe Vanden Plas
Same-sex marriage plea: Just drop it, J.B.
(page 1 of 2)
It was entirely predictable that Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen would take steps to prevent gay couples from getting hitched in the aftermath of Federal Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling to strike down Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage.
Like Crabb, who was appointed by a Democrat president, Jimmy Carter, Wisconsin’s Republican attorney general affirmed that the current law remains in force. To prevent gay couples from getting hitched — unsuccessfully, as marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples almost immediately, leading to charges of coordination — Van Hollen filed an emergency request for a stay from Crabb. He might also file a similar motion before the 7th Court of Appeals in Chicago.
Here’s a better idea for Mr. Van Hollen — forget it. Why bother anymore? We all know where this is heading, and trust me, the world will keep on spinning around the sun if gay couples want to share their lives together in the context of marriage. It really will.
In addition to certain realities, the usual arguments do not apply, beginning with charges of judicial activism on the part of Judge Crabb. Not true. She applied a constitutional rationale, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as the basis for her ruling. The clause guarantees equal protection under the law for every citizen, and there are no exceptions for sexual orientation or anything else.
Marriage just happens to be governed by law, so it should not take a constitutional scholar to see that gay men and women already have the right to marry. There are some folks who don’t believe marriage should be governed by law. Some civil libertarians feel that way. Just about every divorced man with a big monthly alimony payment feels that way, but law governs the institution of marriage. As long as Americans have equal protection under the law, marriage isn’t only between a man and a woman.
There is also a practical business reason to simply accept Judge Crabb’s ruling and move on, rather than appeal it up the legal chain, and it relates to Wisconsin’s workforce needs. For several reasons, some obvious and some not, it’s harder to retain and attract talent in Wisconsin. We’re constantly worried about the so-called brain drain, where we invest tens of thousands of dollars educating each of our children, only to see them search for their first jobs in other states, other tax jurisdictions.