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State Supreme Court will review bans on gay marriage, civil unions

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to review a legal challenge to the state's constitutional bans on gay marriage and civil unions.

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh professor Bill McConkey says voters should have been asked to decide those bans in two referendum questions instead of one.

Fifty-nine percent of voters approved the constitutional change in November of 2006.

The Supreme Court said it would consider the issue in its next term, starting this fall. They did not set a date for arguments.

McConkey lives in Door County and has a daughter who's gay.

His lawyer said the 2006 amendment was improper in asking voters to do two things in one question - ban gay marriage and define legal rights for unmarried people.

Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action, which favored the amendment, says she's "cautiously optimistic" the Supreme Court will uphold it. She says it will happen if the justices interpret the law and stay away from "personal agendas."

Momentum has been shifting toward gay rights. Courts in several states, including neighboring Iowa, have legalized same-sex marriages.

Gov. Jim Doyle's new state budget would let gay couples register with county officials to receive part of the legal benefits now given to married couples.

Glenn Carlson of Fair Wisconsin, which tried to defeat the state's ban, said he hoped the Supreme Court would make a "fair and just decision."