Expert: Wisconsin's Gay Marriages Will Most Likely be Halted - WBAY

Expert: Wisconsin's Gay Marriages Will Most Likely be Halted


U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb's ruling leaves a lot of unanswered questions this weekend.

Charley Jacobs, a political science professor who studies the courts at St. Norbert College in De Pere, said he'd expect new court action soon.

"Without a stay from the court, there's nothing prohibiting county clerks from issuing licenses and marrying same-sex couples," he said in an interview Saturday. "So the difficulty here for the attorney general and these couples is that, while technically this is legal, there's a high probability a federal court will issue a stay, which means that in staying the ruling you cannot yet issue marriage licenses.

"So if people get married between now and the issuance of a stay, they're going to be somewhat in a legal limbo. That is, is the marriage actually valid under state law?"

Saturday, county clerk offices in Milwaukee and Dane counties are issuing marriage licenses.

Other counties are waiting for more guidance from the state.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requested an emergency stay Friday night.

No action by the courts has been taken on that requests, and Jacobs said Crabb's initial ruling didn't make the short-term clear.

"I think yes it's a little bit odd because again it creates problem," Jacobs said. "It creates problems for county clerks because they don't exactly know how to behave, and since the ban is unconstitutional they feel obligated to move ahead to make sure the rights of same sex couples are met, but for the attorney general, who is going to purse a defense of the state constitutional amendment, it puts him and the state in an odd position."

Jacobs adds every state has had a judge overturn a ban on gay marriage has been challenged.

He anticipates action from the U.S. Supreme Court.

"In a case like this, because we have so many cases, and there are numerous questions of law that have been unresolved by the United States Supreme Court, this is probably going to be attached to a consolidated case that goes to the United States Supreme Court for a ruling, so this is going to be a long path, very likely, to Washington D.C."

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