Governor Vetoes Defense of Marriage Act

Supports of bill fear nationwide ramifications
( [email protected] ) Nov 13, 2003 09:33 AM EST

Wisconsin – The democratic governor of Wisconsin vetoed a Defense of Marriage Act, Nov. 7, halting the addition of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

The veto brought by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle was significant in that it prevented the state from becoming the 38th to defend marriage as solely between a man and a woman; should Wisconsin have approved the act, it would have filled the “three-fourths of the states” needed to pass a constitutional amendment.

Sponsors of the Marriage Act may have the votes to override Doyle’s veto, but it is unsure whether the members who voted for it originally is willing to hold their ballot. Initially the Act passed in the Wisconsin Assembly with 68 votes and 22 in the state Senate; a veto override would require 66 votes in the Assembly and 22 in the Senate.

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican and one of the bill's supporters, warned that there is no way other than through the bill to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"We're going to be in court, and those of us that are opposed to recognizing same-sex marriage have to cross our fingers and hope it doesn't go to an activist judge," he said.

Doyle, in opposing the bill, said the bill was redundant and divisive.

"It seems that nobody except members of the legislature are confused as to whether a husband is a man and a wife is a woman," said Doyle.

In addition to vetoing the bill, Doyle pushed for domestic partner benefits that would give health insurance to live-in partners of state employees—whether the partner be homosexual or heterosexual.

The first state to pass the Defense of Marriage act was Hawaii, in 1990. Since then, 36 states, mostly in the west, accepted the legislation.