Gay couples rush to marry at Wisconsin courthouses - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Gay couples rush to marry at Wisconsin courthouses

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(AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Amber Arnold) (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Amber Arnold)
(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps). Jill Winkler, left, and Pamela Dietzler embrace as they are married at the Milwaukee County Courthouse June 6, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps). Jill Winkler, left, and Pamela Dietzler embrace as they are married at the Milwaukee County Courthouse June 6, 2014, in Milwaukee.
  • Gay couples rush to marry at Wisconsin courthousesMore>>

  • Atty. General speaks out on county clerks issuing marriage licenses

    Atty. General speaks out on county clerks issuing marriage licenses

    MADISON, Wis. (WXOW) - Statements from several county clerks around the state who were planning on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he's moving to stop that effort.In a statement, Van Hollen stated that he'll be filing emergency motions to stay the order issued by Judge Barbara Crabb Friday afternoon."The United States Supreme Court, after a referral from Justice Sotomayor, stayed a lower court’s decision striking down Utah’s ban o...More >>
    MADISON, Wis. (WXOW) - Statements from several county clerks around the state who were planning on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he's moving to stop that effort.In a statement, Van Hollen stated that he'll be filing emergency motions to stay the order issued by Judge Barbara Crabb Friday afternoon."The United States Supreme Court, after a referral from Justice Sotomayor, stayed a lower court’s decision striking down Utah’s ban o...More >>
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Dozens of gay couples got married at courthouses in Milwaukee and Madison early Saturday, taking advantage of what may be a small window in which to get hitched before the state's same-sex marriage ban is reinstated, at least temporarily.

Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said couples were lined up outside his courthouse at 6 a.m., three hours before it opened. Within 30 minutes of opening, about 45 couples had applied for marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued her ruling Friday afternoon just as the gay festival PrideFest was starting in Milwaukee. Many couples who married Saturday morning said they had elected to attend the festival the night before since they already had plans with friends. Then they got up early and went to the courthouse.

Craig Cook and Marshall Draper arrived about 8:30 a.m. and found nearly two dozen couples in line ahead of them. Cook, 43, said he and others had been hoping Crabb would make a decision in time for PrideFest. He and Marshall planned to go back to the festival Saturday after being married by a Unitarian minister outside the courthouse.

"Had this been legal, we probably would have done this 20 years ago," Cook said. He said he and Marshall would likely have a reception in a few weeks, but "this was as formal a wedding as I've ever wanted."

Rachel Arbit , 27, and Ashley Norris, 30, tried to get married Friday evening but arrived at the Milwaukee courthouse to find they needed Arbit's birth certificate and Social Security card, both of which were locked in a safe deposit box at a bank nearly three hours away. They returned to the courthouse Saturday morning and waited for Arbit's mother to arrive with the documents.

"We don't know how long it's going to last, this ruling," Norris said. "And we don't want to miss out."

While Crabb declared Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, she did not order the state to allow such marriages. Instead, she asked the couples who sued to describe exactly what they wanted her to block in the gay marriage law.

Attorney Larry Dupuis, who represented the couples who sued, said the American Civil Liberties Union would respond to Crabb's request next week and he expected her to explicitly order marriages to begin after that.

Meanwhile, Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked Crabb on Friday to issue an emergency stay halting the issuing of further marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He was expected to petition a federal appeals court for a similar order on Monday.

Arbit and Norris said they had already planned an October wedding before a rabbi and more than 100 guests and would still have that ceremony. On Saturday, they planned to go to dinner with family and friends before heading to Pridefest that night.

"This is like a total bonus," Arbit said.

More than 120 couples married in Milwaukee and Madison on Friday night. The Dane County Clerk's office said it had issued 30 licenses by 11 a.m. Saturday and would remain open until 5 p.m. The Milwaukee County Clerk's office was closing at 1 p.m.

Voters amended the Wisconsin Constitution in 2006 to outlaw gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The ACLU filed a lawsuit in February arguing that the ban violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to equal protection and due process.

Jean Salzer, 49, and Linda Kapheim, 52, said they were surprised how quickly Crabb acted and hadn't been prepared for Friday's ruling. Two of their friends married Friday night while they were at a Tony Bennett concert in Milwaukee.

"Then we looked at each other and said, 'Let's do this,'" Salzer said.

They married Saturday morning. Though they have been together for 14 years, Kapheim said, "It just makes it so real for family."

"I think there's that legitimacy piece," Salzer agreed. "You are the same as everyone else. Someone with power says we are married."





MADISON, Wis. (AP) - When a federal judge struck down Wisconsin's gay marriage ban, pastor Andrew Warner was among those who headed to the courthouse to get a license so he could legally wed his longtime partner.

Then he turned to perform a wedding for two members of his Milwaukee church.

"I always felt like we were second-class citizens in not being able to get married," Warner said after marrying Jay Edmundson on Friday evening, despite confusion over the effect of a federal judge's ruling that declared Wisconsin's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. "And now I feel good about my state in a way I haven't before."

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. More marriage licenses could be issued over the weekend, even though Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the ruling did not clear the way for weddings to begin. Van Hollen has sought an emergency order in federal court to stop more marriage licenses from being issued.

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. Gutierrez and Schreck then served as witnesses when Warner performed a ceremony for Christopher Martell and Mark Williams. All of the men attend Plymouth Church, where Warner is a minister.

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 halted the ceremonies.

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

In Madison, Shari Roll married Renee Currie just a block from the state Capitol.

"I'm still up in the clouds!" Roll said.

But Van Hollen said confusion and uncertainty had resulted from the judge's decision.

That's because U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb's ruling asked the couples who sued to describe exactly what they wanted her to block in the law. She said she would later decide whether to put her decision on hold while it is appealed.

Attorney Larry Dupuis, who represented the couples who sued, said the ACLU would respond to Crabb next week, and he expected her to then issue an order for the state to allow marriages.

Voters amended the Wisconsin Constitution in 2006 to outlaw gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The ACLU filed a lawsuit this February saying the ban violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to equal protection and due process. It said the eight couples named in the suit and others like them had been deprived of legal protections that married couples enjoy simply because of their gender.

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

"This case is not about whether marriages between same-sex couples are consistent or inconsistent with the teachings of a particular religion, whether such marriages are moral or immoral or whether they are something that should be encouraged or discouraged," Crabb wrote in the Wisconsin ruling. "It is not even about whether the plaintiffs in this case are as capable as opposite-sex couples of maintaining a committed and loving relationship or raising a family together.

"Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution."

___


MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage, and despite confusion over the ruling, clerks in Madison and Milwaukee say they'll start marrying people immediately.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb released her ruling late Friday, calling the ban unconstitutional.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he'll appeal the decision. But both he and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit challenging the ban, don't believe the ruling allows same-sex weddings to immediately begin.

Still, clerks in Madison and Milwaukee were planning to start marrying people right away.

Wisconsin is now the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed.

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A federal judge struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage on Friday, ruling it unconstitutional. It wasn't clear whether U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb's 88-page ruling cleared the way for same-sex marriages to begin immediately. But the ruling makes Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed.

County clerks in Milwaukee and Madison said they had just learned of the decision and were trying to figure out if and when they could begin issuing marriage licenses. Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki said he was keeping his office open while an attorney reviewed the decision in case he could begin accepting marriage licenses Friday evening.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in February on behalf of four gay couples, then later expanded to eight, challenging Wisconsin's constitutional ban on gay marriage. Messages left with ACLU's attorneys were not immediately returned Friday.

A spokeswoman for Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, whose office defended the law in court, did not immediately return a message.

The lawsuit alleged that Wisconsin's ban violates the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to equal protection and due process, asserting the prohibition deprives gay couples of the legal protections that married couples enjoy simply because of their gender.

State marriage bans have been falling around the country since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In May, Czarnezki and Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said they had trained additional staff to issue marriage licenses and worked with the chief judge to have judges on hand to perform ceremonies.

Wisconsin has a five-day waiting period between the application for and issuing of marriage licenses. County clerks can waive the waiting period at their discretion as long as applicants pay a $25 fee.

Czarnezki and McDonell have said it wasn't unusual to waive the waiting period for service members and others with special circumstances, and they would do so for gay couples who pay the fee.

Voters amended the Wisconsin Constitution in 2006, to outlaw gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The state has offered a domestic partner registry that affords gay couples a host of legal rights since 2009, but its future is in doubt; the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court is currently weighing whether it violates the constitution.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 Republican candidate for president, has a long history of opposing gay marriage and Wisconsin's 2009 domestic registry law. But in recent months he's avoided talking directly about the state's ban, which he supported, saying it's an issue that needs to be decided by the courts and state voters who can amend the constitution.

Walker's likely Democratic challenger in the governor's race, Mary Burke, supports legalizing gay marriage.


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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling it unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued the ruling Friday, but it wasn't clear whether same-sex marriages could immediately begin.

But the ruling makes Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed.

Clerks in the state's two largest cities of Milwaukee and Madison had been preparing for such a ruling by bringing in extra staff to handle an expected flood of marriage-license applicants.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of eight same-sex couples.

Gov. Scott Walker has been a strong proponent of the constitutional same-sex marriage ban that was approved by state voters in 2006.

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MADISON, Wis. (WXOW) - A federal judge has overturned Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage.

The ruling came down from Judge Barbara Crabb late Friday afternoon. She said the ban violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

It is the most recent ruling striking down bans against gay marriage across the country.

 



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