Wolf and Schumacher v. Walker

March 24, 2014

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the law firm of Mayer Brown have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of four same-sex couples who wish to marry in Wisconsin or are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages.

The plaintiffs include Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann of Milwaukee, Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf of Eau Claire; Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson of Milwaukee; and Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning of Madison.

Wisconsin's ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents them from securing the hundreds of protections that state law provides to married couples. Wisconsin law subjects same-sex couples to an additional harm that is unique among states that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The only way for Wisconsin couples to get the federal protections that come with marriage is for them to go out of state to marry. But Wisconsin law says that may be a crime punishable by nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Among the plaintiff couples, Schumacher and Wolf were legally married in another state, raising the possibility of prosecution back at home. The lawsuit challenges the overall ban as well as the application of this criminal law to same-sex couples who are forced to choose between being denied federal protections and the risk of criminal prosecution.

The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The plaintiffs allege that the state's constitutional marriage ban sends a message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are viewed as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

Status: Complaint Filed

Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf. Eau Claire. Carol, 60, and Virginia, 74, both grew up in Kansas and moved to Wisconsin together in 1977. Carol worked as an elections administrator and city clerk, and is now retired. Virginia is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister and also a professor emeritus of English at The University of Wisconsin-Stout, where she worked 24 years. They live in Eau Claire with their border collie/Australian shepherd mix, Z.

 

Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson. Milwaukee. Charvonne, 43, and Marie, 48, have been partners more than seven years and raised two sons together. Charvonne is an accountant and Marie is a raw material handler for a manufacturing company. They both very much want to get married, and they want to do it in the state they call home.

 

Judith (Judi) Trampf and Katharina (Katy) Heyning. Madison. Judi, 53, and Katy, 51, met in college at the Girl Scout National Center in Wyoming. They were part of a group of women from the Midwest who would get together outside of summer camp.

 

Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann. Milwaukee. Roy, 56, and Garth, 58, have been together 37 years. They met through mutual friends when they were students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and got together on Election Day in November 1976.

 
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