DARLINGTON, Wis. - Carrie Curtis and her partner, Lisa, have been together for six years. Three years ago, Lisa was diagnosed with cancer and stopped working. Carrie had to support the couple and provide health insurance, and at her most recent job, Lisa couldn't be on that insurance without being her legal spouse.
"I'm not ashamed to be who I am. I'm not ashamed to be with Lisa," Carrie said. "I'm not ashamed to say she's my wife and I want to be able to say that."
"It just means everything. I mean, it just kind of makes us feel more whole," Lisa said.
The Curtis couple went to the Lafayette County courthouse Monday in hopes of obtaining a marriage license. The clerk was polite and kind, but in the end, Carrie and Lisa left without the document they came for.
"Maybe they are looking out for our best interest. We understand they're trying to protect us," Carrie said. "As more and more counties okay-ed the marriage licenses and the go ahead, we were kind of like maybe we weren't as protected as we felt initially, that it wasn't about protecting us."
Nathan Russell with Russell Law Offices advised the Lafayette County clerk. In a statement to News 3, the attorney said he recommended the clerk not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because "too much risk is out there for the county".
Russell said there is a lack of insight provided by the state's Vital Statistics Department. In addition, he said published comments attributed to Judge Barbara Crabb indicate the gay marriage ban is still in place in Wisconsin. Finally, Russell cited the severity of potential legal ramifications for any clerk falsely issuing marriage licenses.
In another legal opinion, Tamara Packard with Cullen Weston Pines & Bach said clerks should not be refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Packard wrote in an open letter that legal counsel for the Wisconsin Counties Association advised all Wisconsin county clerks to accept marriage license applications from those couples with or without waiving the 5-day waiting period.
Carrie said a co-worker already gave her a card filled with money for the couple's wedding. She said they have the support of their friends and family, and she's hopeful their marriage will soon be a reality.
"That's what we're hoping for. And we're not going to give up on that hope. That's all we have to go on," Carrie said.
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