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Same-sex couples begin marrying in Wisconsin after ruling

Attorney general seeks 'emergency' ruling to halt same-sex marriages
Friday, June 6, 2014
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Updated: 9:00 p.m. CDT

MADISON, Wis. — Same-sex couples began getting married in Wisconsin on Friday shortly after a federal judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban and despite confusion over the effect of the ruling.

Clerks in Madison and Milwaukee began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, a little over an hour after the judge released her ruling. Judges were on hand at both courthouses to perform ceremonies.

“I’m still up in the clouds!” Shari Roll said shortly after she married Renee Currie just a block from the state Capitol.

Court officials conducted the marriages even though Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the ruling did not clear the way for weddings to begin and sought an sought an emergency order in federal court to stop them. Van Hollen said confusion and uncertainty had resulted from the judge’s decision and the status quo must be preserved.

In Milwaukee, Jose Fernando Gutierrez and Matthew Schreck married outside the county clerk’s office in what was possibly the first gay marriage in the state. About 45 minutes later, Currie and Roll got married in Madison.

Clerks were keeping their offices open until 9 p.m. in Madison and Milwaukee to issue marriage licenses. It wasn’t immediately known whether marriages were happening elsewhere in Wisconsin.

Andrew Warner, a minister at Plymouth Church in Milwaukee, married longtime partner Jay Edmundson, then performed a wedding for two members of his church, Christopher Martell and Mark Williams. Gutierrez and Schreck, who attend the same church, served as witnesses.

“I always felt like we were second-class citizens in not being able to get married,” said Warner. “And now I feel good about my state in a way I haven’t before.”

Williams said he and Martell had assembled documents needed to get a license in anticipation of a ruling. They expected there to be a narrow window before a court h alted the ceremonies.

“It definitely matters to us to have confidence that our relationship will be respected,” Williams said.

Three of the couples who sued gathered at a bar in Milwaukee, where the gay festival PrideFest opened Friday. They celebrated with family and friends, who brought T-shirts with the message, “love wins.”

Garth Wangemann, 58, and Roy Badger, 56, said they are eager to be married – they have their clothes picked out – but OK with waiting a bit longer. They said they had come a long way since the days when banks wouldn’t give them a joint checking account and landlords didn’t want to rent to them.

“We all wanted the day to come where young people (can) now take it for granted, they can marry the person they love,” Wangemann said.

Clerks were keeping their offices open until 9 p.m. in Madison and Milwaukee to issue marriage licenses.

“I have been waiting decades for this day to finally arrive and we won’t make loving couples wait longer than they want to get married,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Full report on the Wisconsin marriage ruling is here.

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