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Wisconsin Democrats seek federal recognition of same-sex newlyweds

Wisconsin’s Democratic congressional delegation — which includes U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, as well as Reps. Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind — has sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for federal recognition and rights for same-sex couples who got married in Wisconsin earlier this month.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb first ruled on June 6 that Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, but a week later she put same-sex marriages on hold while the case was appealed.

For Baldwin, the first openly gay senator  in U.S. history, this is both a political and personal issue.

“There’s no question that this has been a long struggle for equality and fairness,” Baldwin said. “I feel for those (more-than) 500 couples in the state of Wisconsin. Now they’re in limbo until the appeal is settled.”

Moore said federal rights include pensions, Social Security, joint income tax filing, inheritance and housing allowances.

“We wouldn’t want anyone to be denied critical benefits while they’re waiting,” Moore said. “We don’t know how long this stay will last. We wouldn’t want anybody to die or retire. People’s lives literally are put on hold.”

Kind said he believes Crabb’s decision will be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Discrimination does not work well in our country,” he said. “Second-class citizenship has never worked well in our country. We tend to look back on that with great regret on that.”

The delegation said it hopes to have a favorable decision from Holder very soon.

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard in the Twin Ports at 91.3 FM or online at