The William C. McConkey v. J. B. Van Hollen case is drawing attention as gay marriage retains its status as a politically contentions issue used by the Republican Party.
A case synopsis should be available shortly at the Wisconsin Supreme Court Oral Arguments schedules.
One of the issues to be decided by the Court in McConkey is whether the referendum compound-question form is related to "a readily discernible single purpose."
It is not so related to a single purpose, in accordance with the "single subject" rule in Article XII, section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution.
The language of the 2005 referendum reads: "Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state?" [Emphasis added]
Representative of rightwingers' tortured arguments is the amicus brief filed by "Community Leaders Dedicated to Children ...":
THE AMENDMENT HAS A READILY DISCERNIBLE SINGLE PURPOSE.
Put simply, the second sentence preserves (and prevents dilution of) the public meaning and unique legal status of marriage between one man and one woman established in the first by prohibiting official sanction and endorsement of any legal status 'identical or substantially similar' to it.
The danger from such sanction and endorsement is not the extension to non-married couples of any particular assembly of 'benefits,' but rather the evolution of alternative 'substantially similar' statuses that would, if recognized for non-marital relationships, undermine the legal, social and cultural norms of marriage that have developed from factors unique to heterosexual relationships and the inherent needs of children for a married father and mother.
Everyone get that? Neither do I.
Neither does the Court that took this case to develop some rules of interpretation of the process that brings forth Constitution-amending referenda.
The Court faces the rightwingers' ludicrous proposition that the single purpose in this case is readily discerned as concern over the "evolution of alternative 'substantially similar' statuses that would, if recognized for non-marital relationships, undermine the legal, social and cultural norms of marriage that have developed from factors unique to heterosexual relationships and the inherent needs of children for a married father and mother."
An educated guess on the decision by the seven-member Court: Three to three with Justice David Prosser as the wildcard.
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