Federal judge places Wisconsin same-sex marriages on hold

Photo: Scott Walker. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

Photo: Scott Walker. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

A week after striking down Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage, leading some counties to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a federal judge has put her ruling on hold pending appeal.

“I conclude that Herbert v. Kitchen compels me to stay the injunction,” U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb wrote, noting the U.S. Supreme Court’s January decision to halt marriages in Utah until a final resolution is reached in that case.

“The injunction and the declaration shall take effect after the conclusion of any appeals or after the expiration of the deadline for filing an appeal, whichever is later,” Crabb continued.

In her June 6 decision, Crabb found that Wisconsin laws prohibiting marriage between same-sex couples “interfere with plaintiffs’ right to marry, in violation of the due process clause, and discriminate against plaintiffs on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of the equal protection clause.” Since that ruling, 51 of the state’s 72 county clerks have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the Chicago Tribune, with more than 500 same-sex couples having applied for or been granted a marriage license. 

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is appealing the decision on behalf of the administration of Gov. Scott Walker. After some same-sex couples were able to obtain marriage licenses after Crabb’s ruling last week, Van Hollen unsuccessfully sought an emergency temporary stay from either Crabb or the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier today, Crabb held a hearing to consider the stay and her injunction.

“After seeing the expressions of joy on the faces of so many newly wedded couples featured in media reports, I find it difficult to impose a stay on the event that is responsible for eliciting that emotion, even if the stay is only temporary,” Crabb wrote in her Friday order. “Same-sex couples have waited many years to receive equal treatment under the law, so it is understandable that they do not want to wait any longer. However, a federal district court is required to follow the guidance provided by the Supreme Court. Because I see no way to distinguish this case from Herbert, I conclude that I must stay any injunctive relief pending appeal.”

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Walker — a likely candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — showed little desire to weigh in on the issue of marriage equality.

“It really doesn’t matter what I think now,” Walker said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s in the constitution.” Asked if he were rethinking his position on same-sex marriage, Walker responded, “No, I’m just not stating one at all.”

Wisconsin same-sex marriages stay

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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