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Green Bay LGBTQ+ woman looking to accelerate marriage process if Supreme Court overturns same-sex rights

A Wisconsin state law passed in 2006 bans same-sex couples from marrying
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Posted at 3:18 AM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 04:18:18-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Embedded in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas is asking the court to reconsider cases that protect same-sex rights, including marriage.

For seven years, the nation's highest court has recognized same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

"The fact that the Supreme Court backed it up, it was real," Steph Guzman said, a Green Bay woman who identifies as lesbian. "We were here. We were seen."

Guzman says it was a moment that made her come out.

She's now been in a relationship with her girlfriend for two years.

"I've always wanted marriage," Guzman said. "And we say if it happens, it happens. However now, because of these conversations, we're literally looking to get married soon."

Those conversations are referring to what Thomas is suggesting to the Supreme Court — to reconsider cases that protect gay rights, including marriage.

"It no longer feels like a spiritual, emotional thing," Guzman said. "It almost feels now like a legal paperwork thing. And it takes the beauty out of it."

Experts say Thomas' suggestions doesn't mean the Court has to oblige.

"I think it's unlikely that he's going to get the necessary four other justices to go along with him to make something like that become a reality," Marquette University law professor Chad Oldfather said.

"It's often said that the Supreme Court operates by precedent, that they have to remain loyal to the decisions they made before," UW-La Crosse political science professor Anthony Chergosky said.

But as Chergosky says sometimes — like in Roe v. Wade — precedent doesn't matter.

"I think what I've learned from the court overturning Roe v. Wade is that this new conservative majority is willing to act aggressively," Chergosky said.

If the Supreme Court overturns cases that protect same-sex rights and marriage, it would be up to the states to decide what's next.

Oldfather says Wisconsin law allows same-sex sodomy, but not marriage.

"There's a constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex marriage passed in 2006," Oldfather said.

Oldfather says state lawmakers and the people would need to approve a new constitutional amendment that allows gay marriage.

"We're looking at it would be at least a couple of years to change the State Constitution," Oldfather said.

And if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns gay marriage rights, Guzman says she would likely move.

"I don't want to be in a place that doesn't invite us here," Guzman said.

A recent Gallup poll shows a record-high 71 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage.