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More than half of all Wisconsin counties now issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Monday, June 9, 2014
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Natalie, left, and Heather Starr, with their daughter Libby, say their vows in front of Rev. Roger Bertschausen on the steps of the Outagamie County administration building on Monday, June 9, 2014 in Appleton, Wis. They are the first same sex couple to be married in the county.Wm. Glasheen, The Post-Crescent (AP)

Natalie, left, and Heather Starr, with their daughter Libby, say their vows in front of Rev. Roger Bertschausen on the steps of the Outagamie County administration building on Monday, June 9, 2014 in Appleton, Wis. They are the first same sex couple to be married in the county.

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Waukesha County Clerk Kathleen Novack said her office west of Milwaukee began accepting applications for licenses about 9:30 a.m. Monday after she talked to a county attorney, saw what other counties were doing and spoke with waiting couples. Her office had issued about a half-dozen licenses in the first half-hour and expected perhaps two dozen or so more by the end of the day.

The Rock County clerk’s office in Janesville said it issued two licenses before noon on Monday. Kenosha County Clerk Mary T. Schuch-Krebs said she gave a license to one couple who told her they planned to marry that night.

“I don’t see anything that tells me otherwise,” she said.

St. Croix County deputy clerk Cheryl Harmon said a county attorney told her office in Hudson not to issue licenses until after Crabb’s June 16 deadline for the ACLU to submit its proposed order. La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer said her county’s attorney initially gave the same advice but she issued a license later in the day, after Crabb refused Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s request for an emergency order halting the marriages.

But how long the couples’ window stays open is anyone’s guess.

Van Hollen also appealed Crabb’s decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and asked it to stop the ceremonies.

“There is absolutely no reason to allow Wisconsin’s county clerks to decide for themselves, on a county-by-county basis, who may and may not lawfully get married in this state,” Van Hollen said in a statement.

Crabb said in rejecting Van Hollen’s request for an emergency hold that clerks weren’t issuing licenses because of anything she did. The judge said since she hasn’t yet issued an order it’s not clear what Van Hollen wants to stop. Once both sides have a chance to weigh in on the scope of the ACLU’s proposed order she’ll decide whether to put it on hold, she said.

The 7th Circuit, meanwhile, could rule at any moment.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias said Saturday he expected Crabb’s order to be put on hold. But he noted that more than 1,000 couples married in Utah before a hold was issued there, and a judge recently said those marriages were valid. That decision, like others related to gay marriage, has been appealed.

Given events around the nation, Tobias said he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue next year.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that everything will be fine for those couples,” Tobias said, “but we just don’t know right now.”

The 42 counties as of Monday afternoon are:

Adams, Ashland, Bayfield, Brown, Buffalo, Burnett, Clark, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Door, Douglas, Florence, Fond du Lac, Forest, Green, Iowa, Iron, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, La Crosse, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Monroe, Oneida, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rock, Rusk, Sauk, Sawyer, Sheboygan, Taylor, Vilas, Waukesha, and Wood.

Update: As of June 10, 49 counties (list here) were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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