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Assignment 13: Chippewa Valley couple fights for the right to marry

By: Megan Lowry Email
By: Megan Lowry Email

Wis (WEAU)-- Wis (WEAU)--A lawsuit is sparking debate over Wisconsin’s constitutional ban on same sex marriage but it could be the U.S Supreme Court that gets the last word on whether same-sex couples in the state can marry.

"I really love Virginia and that’s why I married her," said Carol Schumacher.

Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf met through friends and were married in 1990. Together they raised two kids and have four grandchildren.

"We are a typical family," Schumacher said.

In 2009, Carol and Virginia become the first same-sex couple in Eau Claire County to sign up for a domestic partnership.

Than last year after they were legally married in Minnesota. But even after two weddings and 38 years together they still lack the legal right to obtain confidential medical information about each other.

"I’m turning 75 in two days and I think about end of life issues and about being sure Carol can make decisions for me and I for her,” said Virginia Wolf.

Virginia and Carol are one of four Wisconsin couples that are part of a lawsuit challenging the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

In the lawsuit filed this month the couples argue that by not allowing same-sex couples the rights of marriage the state is denying them basic human rights detailed in the federal constitution.

“The amendment to the constitution would be irrelevant if it’s appealed all the way to the Supreme Court which I would assume it would be. If the court rules that our amendment violates the constitutional freedoms that all Americans are supposed to have,” said legal analyst Harry Hertel.

In the lawsuit the couples with American Civil Liberties Union assert that taking away a person’s freedom to marry based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional.

They argue the Supreme Court already ruled that marriage is a basic right and under the 14th Amendment people are guaranteed equal protection of their fundamental rights.

Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage passed in 2006 with 60 percent vote. It also bans the recognition of a same-sex marriage from another state or country.

We talked to Governor Scott Walker while he was touring a manufacturing company and he had this to say about

“My role as an elected official is to up hold the constitution,” said Governor Scott Walker.

Steven Svendson a pastor at Providence Reformed Baptist Church in Rice Lake. He fought for the ban on same-sex marriage eight years ago. He says while he is not against same-sex couples getting legal rights but he does not support marriages between same-sex couples.

“We are talking about two separate things. I’m saying for things like getting medical power of attorney there are other ways than amending our constitution,” said Svendson.

But Virginia and Carol argue they have been a loving couple for almost 4 decades and raised a family and that already is marriage.

Governor Walker, JB Van Hollen and the other people named in the suit 21 days to respond from the filing date on February 3rd. The case will be heard by the Western Wisconsin Federal District Court.


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