88% of Wisconsin counties issue marriage licenses to gay couples; Scott Walker keeps mum

Fri. June 13, 2014 11:49 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

milwaukee county courthouse

photo credit // andy ambrosius/chicagopride.com
Milwaukee, WI - Eighty-eight percent of Wisconsin Counties have issued marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, despite a federal judge saying they did not have to.

Only the state's two most liberal counties – Dane, which includes Madison, and Milwaukee – issued marriage licenses over the weekend after U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on Friday declared invalid Wisconsin's 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibiting state officials from recognizing any union other than a heterosexual marriage.

On Monday, Crabb refused to stay her ruling, adding that she had not ordered the state to begin issuing licenses to gay couples. She had given the ACLU, which is representing the 8 plaintiff couples in the challenge, until June 16 to tell her what parts of the law it wants her to block. That is, she declared the amendment to be unconstitutional but did not prohibit its enforcement, leaving counties to decide for themselves whether to begin issuing licenses.

According to an AP survey conducted Thursday, 63 out of Wisconsin's 72 county clerks had issued 573 marriage licenses to gay couples.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked Crabb and a federal appeals court to stay the ruling as the state pursues an appeal in the case. Crabb has scheduled a hearing for Friday, while the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago could issue a ruling as early as Thursday.

Meanwhile, Republican Governor Scott Walker was scheduled to make his first public appearance on Thursday since Crabb handed down her ruling.

Walker has moderated his opposition on marriage equality in recent months, sidestepping questions in May about his position on the state's ban: "Voters don't talk to me about that."

Polls show a majority (55%) of registered voters favor allowing gay couples to marry. Mary Burke, Walker's likely Democratic opponent for governor, on Thursday applauded last week's marriage ruling.

"Marriage equality makes Wisconsin stronger," she said in a statement.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine