MADISON, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News) A same-sex couple has gone directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, asking the justices to strike down the state's ban on gay marriage. Katherine and Linda Halopka-Ivery were married in California last December -- and for doing so, they face criminal prosecution under Wisconsin law.
Their lawsuit cites the U-S Supreme Court decision from last year which struck down the national Defense of Marriage Act, which granted marriage benefits to same-sex couples in states that recognize gay marriage. Because Wisconsin does not recognize same-sex marriage, the Halopka-Iverys claim they're being treated unequally under the law.
The state Justice Department plans to defend the suit, which was filed against state and county officials. They said the Supreme Court needs to take the case now because of its statewide implications. Normally plaintiffs must have their cases adjudicated by the circuit and appellate courts before they can seek help from the Supreme Court.
In 2009, a pro-family group wanted the Supreme Court to strike down the state's same-sex benefit registry just before it took effect. The justices essentially told the group to get in line. Their case made it to the high court years later, and a ruling is still pending.