Federal judge denies state's request to stay Wisconsin marriage case

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A federal judge this week denied a motion by the state of Wisconsin to stay the ACLU case challenging the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison on March 24 denied the motion for a stay, finding that a delay in the case would serve no purpose.

The state — as the defendant in the lawsuit — had asked the federal court to stay the case until the Wisconsin Supreme Court issues a ruling in a dispute over the state's domestic partner registry, which provides same-sex couples some limited marriage-like benefits.

The ACLU of Wisconsin and the national ACLU have sued the state to overturn the 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman and bars same-sex couples from marrying in Wisconsin.

Same-sex couples can marry in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Gay couples can marry in Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota and a federal judge recently ruled that Michigan's anti-gay constitutional amendment is unconstitutional. That ruling is on appeal, but over the weekend several hundred same-sex couples married in Michigan.