Wisconsin Governor Backs Down From Opposition To Same-Sex Marriage


Wisconsin may be one of the next states to have its ban on same-sex marriage overturned, but Gov. Scott Walker (R), who faces a tight race for reelection this year, isn’t sure he’d agree with such a ruling. In an interview on Friday, Walker said he didn’t know if the ban violates the U.S. Constitution, despite having been one of its chief advocates.

“Any federal judge has got to look at that law not only with respect to the state’s constitution but what it means in terms of the U.S. Constitution, as well,” he explained. “Again, I’m not going to pretend to tell a federal judge in that regard what he or she should do about it.”

Walker’s office did not immediately reply to a ThinkProgress request for comment about whether he believes banning same-sex marriage is constitutional or whether his personal position on the issue had changed. He has previously claimed that Wisconsin’s ban offers a “healthy balance” of LGBT rights, but he also believes conservatives have lost the fight against marriage equality.

Walker’s side-stepping seems to parallel that of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R), who decided not to appeal last week’s decision by a federal judge overturning Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. Both Walker and Corbett face challenging races to keep their seats this year and voter bases that have shifted on this particular issue. A new poll shows that 55 percent of Wisconsin voters support marriage equality.

There may also be 2016 presidential prospects for Walker, which could suggest he’s stepping back from social issues, as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum seems to be doing. Despite his storied history of speaking out against marriage equality, Santorum offered no response to last week’s ruling in Pennsylvania, which was handed down by a federal judge whose nomination he supported. Walker may be similarly softening on social positions to make himself more palatable to voters nationwide.