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Bill introduced in Wisconsin legislature to repeal state's gay marriage ban

In 2006, Wisconsin voters approved a ban on same-sex unions
Wisconsin state Senator Tim Carpenter

Democrats in Wisconsin have introduced a bill to end the midwestern US state's ban on gay marriage.

'A growing majority of Wisconsinites believe the ban on marriage equality does not reflect their belief in how the state should recognize our families,' out state Sen. Tim Carpenter, the bill's sponsor, said in a statement according to Talking Points Memo.

'We believe that it is time to give the people of our state the opportunity to remove unwanted constitutional barriers to marriage equality,' Carpenter continued.

Carpenter's spokesperson noted this is the first attempt by the legislature to reverse the prohibition, which was approved by voters in 2006.

If the proposal passes the state house in two consecutive sessions, it will then be presented to voters as a referendum.

The bill follows, by approximately 10 days, a suit by four couples against the state. The plaintiffs, represented by the  American Civil Liberties Union, are suing state officials over the ban.

The couples also want an end to a law that makes it illegal for LGBTI couples to get married in another state.

'Wisconsin's ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents them from securing the hundreds of protections that state law provides to married couples,' the ACLU said in its statement announcing the legal action.

'Wisconsin law subjects same-sex couples to an additional harm that is unique among states that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The only way for Wisconsin couples to get the federal protections that come with marriage is for them to go out of state to marry. But Wisconsin law says that may be a crime punishable by nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine. '

The suit was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

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