Federal judge strikes down Wisconsin's gay marriage ban
Milwaukee County judges will be on hand to marry people until 9pm
WISCONSIN -- A federal judge has ruled Wisconsin's gay marriage ban unconstitutional today. U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb says the law prohibiting gay marriage are in violation of the due process clause and discriminate against same sex couples.
In 2006, Wisconsin voters approved a gay marriage ban defining marriage only to be legal between a man and a woman. Since then several same sex couples have filed lawsuits challenging the law. The case heard by U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb is the first to succeed in tearing down the state's gay marriage ban.
Judge Crabb wrote this case is not about whether such marriages are moral or immoral according to teachings of a particular religion, but is about liberty and equality.
In official opinion Judge Crabb said, I do not mean to disparage the legislators and citizens who voted in good conscience for the marriage amendment. She also says she did not want to turn all who disagree with her decision into "bigots or superstitious fools".
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen released a statement saying in part:
“As Attorney General, I have an obligation to uphold Wisconsin law and our Constitution. While today’s decision is a setback, we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our traditional marriage laws and the constitutional amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters. I will appeal."
Minutes after learning about this decsion, the Office of the Milwaukee County Executive announced the courthouse will stay open until 9:00 p.m. The courthouse will also be open Saturday, June 7, 2014, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to process marriage licenses.
A marriage license costs $110, and comes with a mandatory five day wait. The county is offering to waive that wait for an extra $25. Milwaukee County judges will also be on hand to marry people tonight.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he will personally cover overtime pay for all employees if he has to.
Milwaukee County Clerk Jo Czarnezki says, "These couples have waited long enough." when talking about same sex couples looking for a legal marriage license and ceremony. In a statement he says, "I won't make them waite any longer."
In response to county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Attorney JB Van Hollen says he will file emergency motions in federal court to stay Judge Crabb's order.
In a statement, Wisconsin Family Action President Juline Appling said:
“All over the country federal judges have replaced 'We, the people' with 'I, the judge' when ruling on state constitutional amendments that define and protect marriage as one man and one woman. Rather than going through the stringent legislative process required to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for a vote, radical homosexuals have used the courts to nullify the vote of a majority of Wisconsin citizens as well as those in 26 other states.”
Dane County Executive released the following statement:
“Judge Crabb’s decision is a victory for fairness and equality in the state of Wisconsin. As someone who fought against the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage while serving in the legislature, I am thrilled that it has been overturned in the name of fairness. I fully support the right of same-sex couples to marry.”
All couples applying for a marriage license must: