Gay couples marry in Wisconsin

Sat. June 7, 2014 9:01 AM by Wisconsin Gazette

same-sex couples began getting married in milwaukee, wi

photo credit // andy ambrosius/
Milwaukee, WI - Same-sex couples rushed to courthouses in Dane and Milwaukee counties on June 6 following a federal judge's ruling that the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

And soon weddings were taking place, even as attorneys and law professors and government officials in the Walker administration were still reviewing the 88-page decision from U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb.

Meanwhile, Decision Day rallies were coming together outside the steps of the Capitol, at taverns and centers and at Milwaukee's PrideFest, which was just getting underway as news of the ruling was breaking — flashing on local and cable TV channels, going up on websites, getting posted, tweeted and shared across social media and going out old-school, in telephone calls from friends and family.

At PrideFest, Milwaukee County Chris Abele took the stage to announce that the clerk's office would stay open late on June 6 and also on June 7 for same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses — even if he had to personally pay for the overtime. There were cheers and, in the audience, quick discussions between partners who would depart the rainbow festivities to get hitched.

In Dane County, Shari Roll and Renee Currie, together for 10 years, became the first same-sex couple to marry. Of course they hadn't started out their Friday with plans to marry, but they had dozens of witnesses as they exchanged vows in an 80-second ceremony before a throng of media.

A news conference took place nearby, outside the Capitol, and another was held in Milwaukee. They were followed by a flurry of statements from civil rights leaders, activists, lawmakers and candidates who cheered Crabb's decision.

There also were condemnations, along with a notice from Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen that he was filing an emergency request for a stay and from the state Department of Justice warning clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Van Hollen said that because Crabb didn't issue an immediate injunction against enforcement that the law remained in effect.

"The United States Supreme Court, after a referral from Justice (Sonia) Sotomayor, stayed a lower court's decision striking down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage. There is no reason to believe the Supreme Court would treat Wisconsin's ban any differently," he said in the statement.

But Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell had a different interpretation of Crabb's ruling, as did Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki, Abele, and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

"This is a happy and historic day in Wisconsin," Parisi said. "It's been a long time coming, it's been too long coming, but it's here. Everyone who wants to marry in Wisconsin is now finally able to marry the person they love."

Article written by Lisa Neff for Wisconsin GazetteRead the full article here

Article provided in partnership with Wisconsin Gazette.