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State officials may find themselves in front of a jury having to defend the state’s seven-year-old constitutional amendment banning gay marriage now that four couples have filed an official challenge in federal court.

Represented in part by the American Civil Liberties Union, the couples are hoping to overturn the ban and be part of a wave across the country of changing state laws, according to a story at

There are challenges in at least 20 states, and many of them were sparked by the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

The Wisconsin suit also seeks to address the “marriage evasion” law, which makes it a criminal offense for couples to get married elsewhere if the union isn’t recognized here.

“I believe we should be allowed to marry the person we’re in love with…and we deserve the freedom to do so,” Marie Carlson – one of the plaintiffs – is quoted as saying.

Nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a statement saying his office will fight the lawsuit.

“This constitutional amendment was approved by a large majority of Wisconsin residents. I believe the amendment is constitutional, and I will vigorously defend it,” his statement said.

Should gay marriage be put to a vote again or should the courts make the decision?

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