Salud Garcia and Pam Kleiss watched their friends cross state lines to get married, but they always saw themselves saying “I do” in Wisconsin.
“We pay taxes here. We've lived here for 10 years. We've been active in our church. We've been active in our community,” Garcia said. “We deserve to be treated the same as everyone else. We deserve to have the same rights as everyone else.”
Garcia and Kleiss are one of eight couples challenging the state’s same-sex marriage laws. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in February, contending the state’s ban denies gay couples the civil rights afforded to other married couples.
“We didn't expect this to happen, not this fast,” Garcia said.
“It does feel like momentum. It does feel much more exciting than we ever thought it would be,” Kleiss said.
It’s not just couples who are waiting on a ruling.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said if a judge legalizes same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, he expects 200 to 300 gay couples to show up at his office within 24 hours of the ruling. That is 10 times the number of couples McDonnell and his staff see on an average day.
“The sooner, the better,” McDonell said. “I mean, from my point of view, it's a form of discrimination that's gone on too long, and the sooner it can end the better. And I look forward to it.”
McDonell said he’s ready to triple the staff helping people with their licenses, and he has a list of people to call in for extra help if needed. McDonell said he is prepared to stay open late or even come in on a Saturday if that’s what it takes to move through the line.
“The things that I worry about are the things I can't predict, you know,” McDonell said. “There's going to be elements of the ruling, there might be snafus, but we'll just pitch in and get it done.”
McDonell added he is coordinating with judges and court commissioners to have people on hand to perform weddings soon after licenses are issued. He said there are waivers available to those who want to get married the same day.
McDonell stressed anyone trying to get a marriage license must go to the clerk’s office where they reside. He said he will have to wait for the judge’s ruling to know whether or not couples married in a different state need to get a new marriage license in Wisconsin.
Anyone looking to get a marriage license must have their birth certificate, a photo ID and judgment of divorce if it applies.