The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a state constitutional amendment that affirms traditional marriage and bans same-sex civil unions.
The court ruled 7-0, stating in the opinion that "the marriage amendment was adopted by the people of Wisconsin using the process prescribed by the constitution, and is properly now part of our constitution."
Family groups praised the ruling.
"Marriage and the will of the people are the clear winners in this decision," said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Council, in a statement.
The amendment was approved in 2006 by 59 percent of state voters. It states: "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."
University of Wisconsin professor William McConkey filed a lawsuit the following year, arguing that the amendment violated the constitution by addressing more than one subject (marriage and civil unions).
But the high court concluded that the two sentences of the marriage amendment "relate to marriage and tend to effect or carry out the same general purpose of preserving the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between only one man and one woman."
Jim Campbell, litigation counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief last year on behalf of the Wisconsin Family Council, maintained that voters adopted the amendment "for one clear and simple reason: to protect the institution of marriage."
"We should be strengthening – not undermining – marriage, which is one man and one woman," he commented. "Once again, activists tried to use the courts to force something on the people that they have repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected."
Appling said the technical argument brought by the plaintiff was just a "sneaky attempt tear down what the voters clearly wanted."
"Judges and politicians should never toss aside the will of the people in order to impose a system that intentionally deprives children of a mom and dad. Which parent doesn't matter: a mom or a dad?"
Voters have stated that they wanted to pass the amendment to prevent "activist judges" from legalizing same-sex marriage and to protect the current definition of marriage. A number of state supreme court decisions overturning the marriage laws of other states were the primary reason for the amendment.