Democrats want to remove marriage definition in Wisconsin constitution

Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Democrats on Monday called for the elimination of nullified language in the state’s constitution that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Lawmakers held a news conference to introduce the resolution after the U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday legalizing gay marriage nationwide. State Reps. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, and Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, applauded the court’s decision and said Wisconsin’s constitution should be amended to reflect it.

“Finally victory is ours, but with this bill we want to ensure that our beloved state of Wisconsin is on the right side of history by removing this discriminatory language from our constitution,” Zamarripa said.

The measure is largely symbolic because a federal appeals court struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban last year. But Spreitzer said it’s important to give voters an opportunity to amend the constitution. Voters in 2006 amended the constitution to include the definition.

“Even though it’s not enforceable, it would really be embarrassing to the state of Wisconsin if this language continued to be part of our constitution,” Spreitzer said. “We really need to give the opportunity to show that the voters have changed their minds.”

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Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, last week said states should have the power to define marriage. Walker’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday about the resolution.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, at a press conference Monday said the move from Democrats was a way to gain favor among voters.

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