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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.


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Jun 9, 2014 04:45 pm
 Posted by  John

Right ends, wrong means.

Your argument is that the 14th Amendment, enacted in 1868, instituted gay marriage as a Constitutional right for all US citizens? That is not remotely credible. It is a straw grasped by those who want to change government without the consent of the governed. It is the fig leaf of cover Judge Crabb hides her social activism behind.

And again, I SUPPORT gay marriage. But it should be debated and people should be educated and convinced and then support for the appropriate specific legislation could be raised. Taking the "easy" way out through judicial activism only speeds us towards a system of men and women and their individual opinions, rather than a nation of laws.

Jun 10, 2014 01:58 pm
 Posted by  John

That said ... I realize the ship of strict interpretation I'm talking about has already sailed, and I DO agree with your headline that there's no point in squandering further resources combating this against the tide of public opinion.

Jun 10, 2014 03:03 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I would like to see any statistical evidence supporting the idea that a gay marriage ban is hurting the state's efforts to recruit good workers. It seems unlikely. People overwhelmingly leave the Wisconsin for California, Texas and Florida for different weather.

Jun 10, 2014 04:03 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

There is a basic principle you are advocating that is far more important than the issue of gay marriage. You are an advocate for the concept that the Chief Legal Officer at any level should pick and choose which laws he or she should choose to defend at his or her whim.

We have all seen that happen from people of both parties at all levels and, it is a dangerous principle to set, regardless of what you feel regarding any issue. Our nation's strength is based on the rule of law and anything that tends to erode that principle is far more dangerous than the trouble of having to change a law to meet the changing views of the voters.

Posted by Bill

Jun 10, 2014 04:07 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Texas has a Wisconsin-like battle on its hands regarding same-sex marriage. It remains outright forbidden in Florida. California was the home of Prop 8. I'm guessing same sex marriage views are not what drives the brain drain to these states.

Jun 10, 2014 06:16 pm
 Posted by  Mark Sevelis

"...the GOP’s social dogma, and neither are the majority of younger Republicans because 61% of them happen to support gay marriage."

So what. There might as well be no more elections--just determine results of elections by some polling organization. Maybe you should read the Wisconsin constitution. There's an amendment stating that marriage is between one man and one woman.

I know--let's just redact that clause from the constitution. Use your Sharpie to cross it out.

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