First Lawsuit Attacking Gay Marriage Amendment Gets Day In Court

By: Zac Schultz Email
By: Zac Schultz Email

Madison: The first lawsuit attacking the gay marriage ban was mostly dismissed by a Dane County judge Wednesday. The judge says the man cannot sue because he is not gay and has not been harmed by the amendment.

"I think every citizen in the state has standing on this issue, including me." William McConkey is suing the state's two highest ranking officials-Governor Jim Doyle and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

He says last fall's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is unconstitutional. McConkey's adult daughter is a lesbian, and Bill says he is harmed by the amendment and its ban on gay marriage and civil unions. "I was asked would I have done this if I didn't get have a gay daugther. Probably not. I'd still be outraged, but I wouldn't have put myself through this. But I'm fighting for my kid."

The state asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying McConkey does not have legal standing to sue, because he has not been harmed. "Mr. McConkey is a married man. He is a heterosexual man. He is not affected in any way whatsoever by the provisions of the recent gay marriage amendment," says Asst. Attorney General Thomas Balistreri.

"To claim that does not have an impact on me and my family is folly and naive," responded McConkey.

Dane County Judge Richard Niess ruled in favor of the state, saying McConkey cannot challenge the amendment on those grounds, however he has reserved judgement on another challenge.

McConkey-and many legal experts-say the amendment violated the single subject rule. The amendment contains two clauses, the first banning gay marriage, the second banning civil unions and anything substantially similar to marriage.

McConkey says his rights as a voter were violated because those are two subjects included in one amendment.

The judge wants written arguments from both sides and he'll decide in a month if that part of the case should be dismissed.

"I'm pleased. It didn't die," McConkey said afterwords. He says now he'll have good news for his daughter. "We won a little bit."

McConkey says now his daughter will likely sue the state, because as a lesbian she can claim to be harmed and will have legal standing to file a lawsuit.

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