Judge puts same-sex marriages on hold

Crabb: 'I find it difficult to impose a stay ... even if the stay is only temporary'
Judge puts same-sex marriages on hold
Judge Barbara Crabb

Same-sex marriages will be put on hold in Wisconsin after a ruling from a federal judge on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued an injunction and a stay in the case brought by 8 Wisconsin couples following a hearing at the Federal Courthouse in Madison Friday afternoon.

In her injunction, Judge Crabb requires all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and instructs the state and specifically the Governor to process those documents and recognize the marriages with full benefits afforded to different-sex couples in the state.

But she issued a stay, suspending that ruling while the case is on appeal.

Same-sex marriage licenses have been issued by all but 12 Wisconsin counties since last Friday, when Crabb issued a decision declaring Wisconsin’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage unconstitutional. 

However, the Crabb created by confusion by not telling state officials how to implement her decision.

In her 14-page written ruling issued late Friday, Crabb called issuing the order “difficult.”

“After seeing the expressions of joy on the faces of so many newly wedded couples featured in media reports, I find it difficult to impose a stay on the event that is responsible for eliciting that emotion, even if the stay is only temporary,” Crabb wrote. “Same-sex couples have waited many years to receive equal treatment under the law, so it is understandable that they do not want to wait any longer.

“However, a federal district court is required to follow the guidance provided by the Supreme Court. Because I see no way to distinguish this case from [the case being considered in Utah], conclude that I must stay any injunctive relief pending appeal.”

Dane County and ACLU attorneys had hoped Crabb may choose not to issue the stay, questioning whether the state’s defense of the marriage ban would be successful.

“There’s been enough rulings in a row, the momentum has changed and it is sweeping the nation and I think it’s time for Judge Crabb to put her foot in the ground,” said Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell. 

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a statement late Friday saying he was pleased with the stay, and that the state law regarding same-sex marriage remains in “full force and effect.”

“County clerks do not have authority under Wisconsin law to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Judge Crabb’s stay makes this abundantly clear,” Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen said he would file a notice of appeal with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.