Wisconsin Referendum 1

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Wisconsin Referendum 1 of 2006 was a referendum on an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution that would invalidate same-sex marriages or any substantially similar legal status. The referendum was approved by 59% of voters during the general elections in November 2006.[1] All counties in the state voted for the amendment except Dane County (home of the state capital, Madison), which opposed it. The constitutional amendment created by Referendum 1 has been effectively nullified since June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.[2]


The text of the adopted amendment, which became Article XIII, Section 13 of the state constitution, reads:

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.[3]

As required by the constitution, the amendment was approved by both houses of the legislature, in two consecutive sessions. The legislative history of the amendment is as follows:

  • March 5, 2004: Approved by Wisconsin State Assembly by a vote of 68-27.
  • March 12, 2004: Approved by Wisconsin State Senate by a vote of 20-13[4]
  • December 6, 2005: Approved by the State Senate a second time, by a vote of 19-14.[5]
  • February 28, 2006: Approved by the State Assembly a second time.
  • November 7, 2006: Approved by referendum, by a margin of 59.4%-40.6%.[6]

Legal challenge[edit]

In April 2009 the Wisconsin Supreme Court was asked in McConkey v. Van Hollen to rule on whether the 2006 Referendum 1 was constitutional. William McConkey, a political science instructor, claimed that the measure violated the state's constitution because it proposed more than one question in a single ballot proposal, which is impermissible under Wisconsin law.[7][8][9] On June 30, 2010, the Court ruled that the amendment is constitutional.[10][11] However, on June 6, 2014 the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin overturned all bans on same-sex marriage in the state.[12] On October 6, 2014, same sex marriage was legalized in Wisconsin.


  1. ^ CNN.com Election 2006 - Ballot Measures Accessed 14 December 2006.
  2. ^ "U.S. 21st country to allow same-sex marriage nationwide". CNN. June 26, 2015.
  3. ^ "DOMAwatch.org - Wisconsin" Alliance Defense Fund. 2006. Accessed 06 January 2007.
  4. ^ Assembly Joint Resolution 66, Journal of the Wisconsin Senate, March 11, 2004, p. 717. The final vote was taken shortly after midnight on March 12.
  5. ^ Senate Joint Resolution 53, Journal of the Wisconsin Senate, Dec. 6, 2005, p. 488.
  6. ^ Canvass Summary, Wisconsin State Elections Board, Fall General Election, Nov. 7, 2006.
  7. ^ Wisconsin amendment supreme court
  8. ^ Christopher Magnum, Wis. "Supreme Court Hears Gay Marriage Case", Advocate.com, Nov. 3, 2009.
  9. ^ Patrick Marley, "State Supreme Court hears arguments on gay marriage amendment", The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 3, 2009.
  10. ^ Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Gay Marriage Ban
  11. ^ Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds gay marriage ban
  12. ^ "Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban struck down". Retrieved 2014-06-06.

External links[edit]