End the Criminalization of Same-Sex Marriage in Wisconsin
Marriage Evasion statutes were popular at the turn of the last century, and intended to prevent minors, divorcees, and mixed-race couples from going to another state with less stringent marriage laws to get hitched and then returning to their home states and demanding recognition. Some, like Virginia's marriage evasion statute, the so-called "Racial Integrity Act of 1924," imposed criminal penalties for such activity. It was this criminalization that was eventually struck down in Loving v. Virginia.
In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act established an effective country-wide Marriage Evasion statute, with section 2 allowing states to summarily ignore same-sex marriages validly entered into in another state. While no state is currently under threat of being forced to recognize an out-of-state same-sex marriage, some have maintained their own marriage evasion statutes on their books. Some simply refuse to recognize the marriage, and some take things way too far.
Under current Wisconsin code, "Any person residing and intending to continue to reside in this state who goes outside the state and there contracts a marriage prohibited or declared void under the laws of this state" can be fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for up to 9 months.
Wisconsin will ignore your Massachusetts marriage license, but not before tossing you in jail for having it.
Urge Wisconsin to remove this outrageous and highly-discriminatory statute from its state code.
Under current Wisconsin law, 765.30(1)(a) of the Wisconsin code, "Any person residing and intending to continue to reside in this state who goes outside the state and there contracts a marriage prohibited or declared void under the laws of this state" can be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned for up to 9 months, or both.
The state constitution declares: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”
Under these two provisions, a same-sex couple residing in Wisconsin, who travels to another state to obtain a marriage license, will return to Wisconsin to find not only that their marriage is not recognized but also that they face serious criminal repercussions.
Section 765.30(1)(a) of the Wisconsin code is not only outrageous and disproportionate to the "crime" committed, it is also completely legally unnecessary. Under section 2 of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, "No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship."
The state and people of Wisconsin, under the scope of the Defense of Marriage Act, are under no obligation to recognize out of state same-sex marriages. There is no tangible threat to the marriage provision of the state constitution. Wisconsin may continue to render out-of-state same-sex marriages null and void withing state lines without resorting to the cruel and unusual punishment outlined in section 765.30(1)(a).
Please repeal section 765.30(1)(a) of the Wisconsin code as being cruel and unusual, and legally unnecessary.
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