Same-sex couples in WI call SCOTUS rulings a “huge” victory

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GERMANTOWN/MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court made history on Wednesday, June 26th, with two major legal victories that reshape civil rights and the family unit in the nation. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the federal DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is unconstitutional -- extending federal benefits to same-sex spouses. In a separate case, the court declined to decide the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage in California, effectively allowing gay marriage in that state.

There are now 13 states that allow gay marriage.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday did not say gay marriage is a constitutional right, so the rulings leave state bans, like the one in Wisconsin, in place.

Pat Brown and Dennis Kohler of Germantown say Wednesday's rulings do a lot for equality in this nation.

"Growing up, I always felt second class. My government isn't going to treat me as a second class citizen anymore. Every human being has an inherent dignity and worth, and my federal government said I am worthy of dignity and respect. Our relationship is worth dignity and respect," Brown said.

Brown and Kohler have three children, and their home is just like any other -- except the Father's Day card includes two dads.

"(Our kids) have two loving parents. That's the most important thing," Kohler said.

The couple's 13-year relationship is recognized by their family and friends, but not by their government.

Because same-sex marriage is not legal in the state of Wisconsin -- a marriage between Brown and Kohler wouldn't be recognized on the federal level. Only those marriages that occur in states in which same-sex marriage is legal would be recognized.

However, the couple says it's about the bigger picture.

"I think it's huge. I'm so excited. I got chills when I heard the results," Kohler said.

In Milwaukee, Kristin Burrmann and Nicole Majinski celebrated the rulings on Wednesday.

Last fall, the couple had a commitment ceremony at Miller Park. The couple says they are thrilled to know after four years of being together, there is now a chance they might have legal standing.

"It's huge. It was difficult knowing it wasn't recognized," Burrmann said.

"We're one step closer to getting there," Majinski said.

In Washington, D.C., outside the Supreme Court, same-sex marriage opponents vowed to continue the fight on religious grounds.

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki called it: "A sad day for the sacrament of marriage."

Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban remains in place, and with the Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday, some of Wisconsin's same-sex couples have questions.

"How do we find out if Dennis and I can go to Iowa and get married and then come back and file joint taxes?" Brown asked.

For those in Wisconsin, the Supreme Court's decision Wednesday likely won't change their lives that much -- at least not yet, as Wisconsin remains one of 30 that still defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.