US: Wisconsin Attorney General says there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage

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Wisconsin’s Attorney General compared same-sex marriage to abortion Wednesday, arguing there is no fundamental right to either and calling state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman “reasonable.”

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen made the statements in a brief, filed with the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago.

The brief was in response to a federal judge’s decision that declared Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in June.

Van Hollen said in the brief that the US Constitution doesn’t require states to grant rights, but bars them from depriving citizens of fundamental rights.

He said same-sex marriage, like abortion, is not a fundamental right.

Van Hollen said: “Although the constitutional right of privacy protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion and precludes government from prohibiting or punishing her exercise of that right, there is no corresponding obligation on government to affirmatively endorse or support her exercise of the abortion right.”

Van Hollen also said the Defense of Marriage Act had violated the right of states to recognize same-sex marriages if they wished.

He said in overturning DOMA last year, the US Supreme Court recognized the authority of states to set their own definitions of marriage.

A federal judge struck down Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban in early June and did not immediately stay her ruling, allowing couples to marry.

The Attorney General applied for an emergency stay, asking the same judge put her ruling on hold.

That appeal caused the judge to put a stop to same-sex weddings less than a week after they began.

The Attorney General appealed against the ruling that struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban earlier this month, sending the case to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals court combined and fast-tracked marriage ban cases from Indiana and Wisconsin, hoping to get the cases resolved faster.