Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases related to same-sex marriage, curious minds want to know what this might mean for Wisconsin, which passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2006.
The answer, of course, depends on how the court rules in each case.
Up for constitutional review is the Defense of Marriage Act - a federal statute passed in 1996 that denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages in states where they are permitted - and Proposition 8, a statewide referendum passed in California that banned gay marriage. The initiative passed after the California Supreme Court upheld the right to marry and the California legislature expanded domestic partner benefits to equal those of marriage.
Andrew Coan, a UW-Madison assistant law professor and expert on the U.S. Supreme Court, says overturning DOMA would have little impact on Wisconsin unless Wisconsin also repealed its constitutional ban on gay marriage.
The challenge to Prop. 8, he says, "has the potential to have a bigger, more direct impact on the state of Wisconsin."
The most dramatic ruling, he adds, would be for the high court to "hold that the 14th Amendment requires all states to provide equal recognition to same-sex couples." That, he says, "would have implications for the state of Wisconsin and all other states that refuse to recognize same-sex marriage - which is the vast majority of states."