Some Clerks Deny Wisconsin Gay Couples Licenses
Gay couples seeking marriage licenses were turned away in some Wisconsin counties on Monday, with clerks waiting for guidance from the courts or state government before accepting applications.
Hundreds of couples married over the weekend in Milwaukee and Madison after a federal judge declared Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriages unconstitutional. County clerks in the state’s two largest cities extended office hours to allow couples to take advantage of what most believe will be a narrow window before the judge’s decision is put on hold.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has scheduled a 1 p.m. hearing on Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s request for an emergency stay to keep more licenses from being issued. Van Hollen also has appealed Crabb’s decision to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and asked it for a stay.
Clerks in several counties said they would not issue licenses until they have received directions from the Wisconsin Vital Records Office, which keeps marriage records. Jennifer Miller, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health Services, which oversees vital statistics, said it would not issue any guidance until it received directions from Van Hollen.
Brown County Deputy Clerk Justin Schmit said he turned away about 15 couples in Green Bay on Monday morning, and an employee in the Racine County clerk’s office said she had too.
Crabb’s decision created some confusion among clerks because she declared the ban unconstitutional but also said she wanted the American Civil Liberties Union to tell her exactly what it wanted her to block in the gay marriage law. The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the ban in January on behalf of eight gay couples.