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Eight gay couples – including one from the Racine/Kenosha area – will get their first day in court March 27 over Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb set the date, according to a story in The Wisconsin Gazette, after the American Civil Liberties Union Friday filed an amended complaint and an injunction that seeks to stay the state law until a final legal decision is reached.

Crabb was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin by President Jimmy Carter.

The suit was filed Feb. 4 by the ACLU on behalf of four couples who say the seven-year-old amendment is unconstitutional and also challenges a state law that makes gay marriages performed in other states a criminal offense here. Another four couples were recently added to the lawsuit with the amended complaint filed by the ACLU.

“We are seeking a preliminary injunction because nothing should delay loving, committed couples from receiving the security, esteem, and recognition of marriage,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, in a statement released Friday.

The ACLU’s amended complaint also addresses parental rights because one of the couples is expecting a child this year. Under current law, the partner who is not the biological parent is a stranger, the injunction reads.

But, if gay marriage were legally recognized, both parents would have equal rights “pursuant to Wisconsin law’s presumption of parenthood for children born to married couples,” the brief reads.

Nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin voters in 2006 approved a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions. But, a January poll from Marquette University Law School revealed that 53 percent of respondents support marriage equality.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a statement when the original lawsuit was filed saying he would defend the amendment.

“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.

The couples involved in the lawsuit include the following four original couples because they want to marry in Wisconsin or want their out-of-state marriages recognized by the state:

  • Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann of Milwaukee
  • Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf of Eau Claire
  • Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson of Milwauke
  • Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning of Madison

Four additional couples were added Friday to the lawsuit:

  • Kami Young and Karina Willes of Milwaukee, the parents-to-be
  • Salud Garcia and Pam Kleiss of Madison, who have a 12-year-old daughter
  • Bill Hurtubise and Dean Palmer, of the Racine/Kenosha area, who have three children
  • Johannes Wallmann and Keith Borden of Madison

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