updated 11/7/2003 1:19:50 PM ET 2003-11-07T18:19:50

Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill Friday that would define marriage in Wisconsin as solely between a man and woman, saying state law already clearly prohibits same-sex marriage and the legislation was “mean-spirited.”

STATE LAW now defines marriage as a contract between a husband and wife. But supporters of the bill have warned that activist judges could interpret the language loosely and redefine marriage to allow gay couples to wed. They said the bill would ensure gay marriage would not be allowed or recognized in Wisconsin.

“This bill is just another example of the Legislature focusing its time and energy on divisive, mean-spirited bills that do nothing to grow Wisconsin’s economy, make health care more affordable and accessible, or improve our public schools,” said Doyle, a Democrat.

State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the bill’s authors, said he expects gay couples will challenge Wisconsin’s current statutes in court. He also said it was likely a gay couple would seek a marriage in another jurisdiction where it is legal and return to Wisconsin seeking legal recognition.

“We’re going to be in court, and those of us that are opposed to recognizing same-sex marriage have to cross our fingers and hope it doesn’t go to an activist judge,” said Fitzgerald, a Republican.

No state currently allows gay marriage, though Vermont allows civil unions between gays and California recently enacted legislation creating new rights for domestic partners. Two Canadian provinces have also legalized gay marriage.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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