This Ted Cruz Endorser Would Have Sent Married Gay Couples to Jail

Julaine Appling is one of 50 religious leaders backing Cruz in Wisconsin.

Jim Mone/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

One of Ted Cruz’s supporters in Wisconsin once stood up for the idea that gay couples who married in another state should be sent to prison—and be fined hefty sums.

Back in 2008, when California legalized same-sex marriage (before Proposition 8 temporarily ended marriage equality there), same-sex couples in Wisconsin considered heading to California to tie the knot. But there was a hitch. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported at the time, an obscure state law “makes it a crime for Wisconsin residents to enter into marriage in another state if the marriage would be prohibited here.” The law also carried a serious penalty of up to $10,000 and nine months in prison.

And at least one person wanted to see that law enforced against gay Wisconsin couples who married elsewhere. “If it were challenged and the courts decided to basically wink at it, and refused to enforce the law, we have a problem,” Julaine Appling, who led the Wisconsin Family Council, said at the time.

Appling, now president of Wisconsin Family Action, a conservative Christian group, was dubbed “the most important social conservative” by the Capital Times. Her name appears at the top of a list of 50 evangelical and Catholic Cruz supporters that the campaign released Friday ahead of the April 5 primary in the state.

Appling has a long history of fighting marriage equality. She supported passage of a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2006. And in 2009, she was behind a lawsuit to block a Wisconsin domestic partnership law to grant same-sex couples some of the benefits married couples received. Appling called the law “an assault on the people, the state constitution, the democratic process, and the institution of marriage.”

The conservative crusader wants to not only stop gay couples from marrying, but also keep straight couples from separating. In 2014, she told the Capital Times that she wanted the state to pass laws to encourage relationship counseling and discourage divorce by lengthening the waiting period for obtaining a divorce.

And she is no fan of Donald Trump. In February, she signed on to an open letter to the Republican front-runner from social conservatives asking questions like “How will you make America great when you’ve run businesses associated with increased crime, bankruptcies, broken marriages and suicides?” and “What would you say to young girls and women who are concerned about a president who is directly connected with the exploitation of women?”



Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend