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Federal judge puts same-sex marriages in Wisconsin on hold pending appeal

Friday, June 13, 2014
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Keith Kitsembel, front left in oragne, and his fiance Allen Rasmussen, rear right in orange, wave to supporters outside the Portage County Courthouse Friday, June 13, 2014, in Stevens Point, Wis., where about 50 people gathered to protest the county’s refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Andy Davis, The Stevens Point Journal (AP)

Keith Kitsembel, front left in oragne, and his fiance Allen Rasmussen, rear right in orange, wave to supporters outside the Portage County Courthouse Friday, June 13, 2014, in Stevens Point, Wis., where about 50 people gathered to protest the county’s refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Allen Rasmussen, 46, and Keith Kitsembel, 49, who have been together for 14 years, asked the Portage County clerk nine times since Monday to get a marriage license.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Kitsembel said after the ruling Friday. “I furthermore am very, very, very disappointed in our county clerk in Portage County. We had a small window of opportunity to get married, and she refused to grant us a license nine times in five days.”

They were part of a silent protest Friday outside the Portage County courthouse.

As of midday Thursday, 555 same-sex couples had gotten married in the state, based on an Associated Press survey of all 72 counties.

Van Hollen said Thursday that same-sex couples with marriage licenses aren’t legally married because Crabb hasn’t issued an order telling county clerks how to interpret her ruling striking down the law. Van Hollen also said district attorneys could charge clerks who issued licenses with a crime.

Crabb reiterated in Friday’s 30-minute hearing that clerks were issuing licenses to same-sex couples on their own.

“I never told them not to and I never told them to do it,” Crabb said.

The ACLU and others say because Crabb found the law unconstitutional, and didn’t order clerks not to issue licenses, they could legally give them to couples seeking to get married.

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Crabb’s order did not address whether same-sex marriages completed over the past week are valid.

Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment, approved by 59 percent of voters in 2006, outlawed gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The ACLU said the ban violated the constitutional rights of eight gay couples to equal protection and due process and Crabb agreed.

Gay rights activists have won 15 consecutive lower court cases since a landmark Supreme Court ruling last summer, with Wisconsin being the latest.

Wisconsin is among 13 states with gay marriage cases pending before appeals courts.

The order is here.

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