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Will Wis. GOP Gov. Flip on Same-Sex Marriage Views?

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday May 27, 2014
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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker  (Source:AP Photo)

In an unusual but unsurprising move, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked a federal judge Friday to place on hold any further rulings she may make against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage -- the second time the conservative Hollen expressed doubt over the state’s chances to defend the ban. Now, Republican Gov. Scott Walker appears to be flip-flopping on the controversial issue, against which he once firmly stood.

Walker, who has supported Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage since it was passed in 2006, said he wasn’t sure if the ban violates the U.S. Constitution, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

He also said he wasn’t sure if the ban would be approved by voters today or if there would amount to a substantial change to the state’s values and economy if the ban were struck down. The newspaper notes that Walker, who is named as one of the defendants in a lawsuit challenging the state’s gay marriage ban, made it clear he did not want to be part of the legal battle in an election year and that he said he was focused on other issues.

Walker added the gay marriage was an issue for Van Hollen and the federal judge to figure out.

"Any federal judge has got to look at that law not only with respect to the state’s constitution but what it means in terms of the U.S. Constitution, as well. Again, I’m not going to pretend to tell a federal judge in that regard what he or she should do about it," Walker said. "...I don’t know what (allowing gay marriage) means. Voters don’t talk to me about that. They talk to me about the economy. They talk to me about their kids’ schools."

The Sentinel writes that Walkers’ comments were a "rare moment" as the governor "thrives on taking firm stances on controversial questions."

Walker has long backed the state’s gay marriage ban. When the federal lawsuit was filed in February and challenge Wisconsin’s ban, Walker said he had to uphold the measure because it was part of the constitution, saying he had "not heard significant movement across the state" to overturn the ban.

On a 2013 appearance on "Meet the Press," Walker once against voiced his support for the ban during a discussion about whether the government needed to be involved in marriage at all.

The newspaper points to a new poll conducted by officials from Marquette University Law School that found that 55 percent of Wisconsin voters are in favor of gay marriage while 37 percent oppose it. Six percent said they were not sure.

Van Hollen’s decision to motion for a stay before the ruling signals that the state will likely lose the gay marriage ban battle. It’s also a sign that the attorney general will most likely appeal the judge’s ruling.

"The failures of the district courts in Utah and Michigan to immediately enter stays to preserve the status quo for appeal led to chaos, confusion, uncertainty, and ultimately, further litigation," Van Hollen wrote.

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