Judge offers expedited trial in Wisconsin marriage equality case, but not injunction

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A federal judge has said she can work on an expedited schedule in handling a challenge to Wisconsin's ban on gay marriages. However, the judge said she’s not likely to issue a preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing the ban.

The order was filed on March 4. It referred to a motion filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and requesting the injunction. A hearing on the motion had been tentatively set for March 27.

U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb in Madison wrote, "A review of recent cases addressing similar challenges brought in other states raises a question whether a preliminary injunction is appropriate in this case, regardless of any conclusion I reach about the merits of plaintiffs' claims."

The judge referred to the U.S. Supreme Court's stay of a ruling against Utah's marriage ban pending "final disposition" of that case by Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Crabb recognized the reason for the request for an injunction — the argument that "relief is needed now — but if a stay would soon be entered what would be the purpose?

"Either way, the plaintiffs get no immediate relief, but are free to continue litigating the case," she wrote. "Thus, … it may be better use of the parties' resources to focus on reaching a swift, final determination in the district court rather than litigating the case in multiple stages with no clear benefit to either side."

The judge asked the ACLU to withdraw its motion for a preliminary injunction in "favor of an expedited schedule for summary judgment and trial."

The ACLU has sued the state — Gov. Scott Walker is the man defendant — seeking to overturn the constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage that voters approve din 2006 and also an old law that punishes same-sex couples who leave Wisconsin to marry elsewhere.