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Judge overturns Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban

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Photo: Video by tmj4.com

Judge overturns Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban

By Katie Crowther and James Kust. CREATED Jun 6, 2014 - UPDATED: Jun 6, 2014

MADISON - A federal judge has ruled that Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Wisconsin's voters passed a constitutional ban against same-sex marriages in 2006, but the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and the law firm of Mayer Brown filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight Wisconsin couples challenging the ban.

Part of Friday's ruling reads: 

"It is DECLARED that art. XIII, § 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution violates plaintiffs' fundamental right to marry and their right to equal protection of laws under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constiution."

MORE: Click here to read the complete Wolf v. Walker ruling

On Friday night alone, Milwaukee County issued 68 same-sex marriage licenses, and all 68 of those couples were married on the spot at the Courthouse.
 
Matt Schreck and Jose Fernando Gutierrez, who live in Bay View, were the first in line to fill out their marriage license.
 
“This is one of the happiest days of my life,” Matt said, unable to hold back tears. “You meet somebody and you love them, and you're told for so long that you can't get married. We’ve been together for more than seven years. We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
 
The crowd erupted in cheers when they officially became a married couple in the hallway of the courthouse. Dozens of other couples followed suit.
 
Jill Winkler and Pam Dietzler were the first lesbian couple to get married there.
 
“She was on her way home from work and was going to take me out for ice cream,” Pam says. “But she called and told me that we had to get to the courthouse. She heard from a friend about the ruling.”
 
Many have similar stories - dropping everything to finally, legally marry the person they love in the city they call home.
 
“It can't get much better than this,” Jill says. “It really can't.”
 
“It is amazing,” Matt adds. “I love Milwaukee. I love Wisconsin. I was born and raised here.”

The state motioned to stay the trial in March and to dismiss it in April, but both motions were denied. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requested an emergency stay in the case that would block marriages from going forward.

“As Attorney General, I have an obligation to uphold Wisconsin law and our Constitution," Van Hollen said. "While today’s decision is a setback, we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws and the constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters.  I will appeal."

Despite Van Hollen's statement, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele ordered that the Courthouse stay open late Friday and early Saturday morning to allow for marriages to be performed.

The ruling came just as PrideFest Milwaukee kicked off Friday. The three-day event runs through Sunday.

The ACLU of Wisconsin first broke the news Friday on Twitter: