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Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News

A federal judge on Friday struck down Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban.

US District Court Judge Barbara Crabb's decision, like marriage equality cases that came before it, cited the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.

"In 1954, in what likely was one of the first cases explicitly addressing issues involving gay persons, a federal district court denied a claim involving censorship of a gay news magazine, stating that the court 'rejected' the 'suggestion that homosexuals should be recognized as a segment of our people,'" Crabb wrote. "In the decades that followed, both courts and the public began to better appreciate that the guarantees of liberty and equality in the Constitution should not be denied because of an individual's sexual orientation."

In response to the ruling, clerks are already officiating same-sex marriages in Milwaukee and Madison.

But that might not last for long. Crabb is giving both sides until June 16 to submit materials arguing whether the ruling should be stayed. If she stays the ruling, Wisconsin's same-sex couples will not be able to marry until the case works through the appeals process or until the stay expires.

Crabb had particularly strong words for opponents of LGBT rights who argue that the courts should let the public and lawmakers decide these issues.

"Perhaps it is true that the Wisconsin legislature and voters would choose to repeal the marriage amendment and amend the statutory marriage laws to be inclusive of same-sex couples at some point in the future," Crabb wrote. "Perhaps it is also true that, if the courts had refused to act in the 1950s and 1960s, eventually all states would have voted to end segregation and repeal anti-miscegenation laws. Regardless, a district court may not abstain from deciding a case because of a possibility that the issues raised in the case could be resolved in some other way at some other time."

Wisconsin's decision is only the latest in a long line of court challenges against same-sex marriage bans. All states' same-sex marriage bans are currently being contested in court. Most recently, judges struck down bans in Oregon and Pennsylvania.

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Update: This story was updated with the latest developments.