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More than half WI voters now support same-sex marriage

LA CROSSE, WI (WKBT) - For the first time in Wisconsin, more than half of voters say they support same-sex marriage.

But is this change in public opinion enough to make a change in state law?

"I think it's a matter of time," said La Crosse resident Jared Lemke.

Lemke said it could take years, but eventually, he believes Wisconsin will legalize same-sex marriage.


"Will it happen in Wisconsin now? Probably not. But in 5 years, 10 years probably. It will just be across the nation," said Lemke.

A new Marquette Law School Poll shows 53 percent of Wisconsinites now support same-sex marriage.

That's an almost 10 percent increase in just one year.

Lemke said his generation is likely playing a large role in the change.

"I think it's a generational mindset that same-sex marriage is not OK with, but it's a progressive thought," said Lemke.

The Seven Rivers Region LGBT Resource Center says more members of the community are also willing to bring awareness to the issue.

"A lot more people have been feeling more comfortable over the last few decades to come out and to be visible. Centers like ours I think are helping that because we're creating a space in the community," said executive director of the LGBT resource center Jackson Jantzen.

But UW-La Crosse political science professor Joe Heim said no matter what the polls say, it will take a lot more to change a state constitutional amendment.

"A piece of legislation has to pass two consecutive terms in the Legislature. In other words, it would have to pass this year, both the houses, the Senate and the Assembly and then after the next election it would have to pass the same two houses one more time. Then it goes to the voters in a referendum, a statewide referendum that's basically a yes or no vote," said Heim.

Heim said the polls would have to show much larger support before legislators would kick off that process.

"Furthermore, the Assembly and the Senate are in control of the Republican party. They have traditionally been opposed to same-sex marriage. The governor is involved too. So the fact that they're in charge would make it highly unlikely they would take it up this fall," said Heim.

But even though it would take a long, extensive legislative process, Lemke says the change will come.

"Everything changes over time," said Lemke.

The Marquette Law School Poll also showed a drop in the number of people who oppose any legal recognition.

It went from 23 percent in 2012 to just 19 percent in this year's poll.

To see the full report, visit https://law.marquette.edu/poll/2013/10/29/marquette-law-school-poll-shows-walker-in-tight-race-with-burke-for-wisconsin-governor-in-2014/

State Rep. Steve Doyle says there isn't currently any proposed legislation to make a constitutional amendment to the definition of marriage.

He says it will take higher poll numbers and a change in who holds office before it would be considered.

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