Wisconsin AG: Clerks May Face Charges for Issuing Licenses to Gay Couples

Friday, 13 Jun 2014 10:57 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has warned county clerks in the state that they could be prosecuted for issuing marriage license to same-sex couples.

Days after a federal judge struck down a 2006 amendment in the state’s constitution banning gay marriages, Van Hollen declared that same-sex couples who have rushed to the altar since the ruling are not married in the eyes of the law, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"You do have many people in Wisconsin basically taking the law into their own hands and there can be legal repercussions for that," the Republican attorney general told the newspaper.

Van Hollen added that he did not believe that same-sex couples who had married in the past few days could be prosecuted, but he said that county clerks could face charges.

"That's going to be up to district attorneys, not me," he said. "There are penalties within our marriage code, within our statutes, and hopefully they're acting with full awareness of what's contained therein."

The confusion follows a decision in Madison by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, who ruled that the ban on same-sex unions in the state violated the rights of gay and lesbian couples to equal protection under the constitution.

The Journal Sentinel said that Crabb did not stay her ruling pending appeal, but she also did not issue an order blocking the enforcement of the gay marriage ban, which has resulted in a heated debate on whether her decision meant that same-sex couples could immediately wed in Wisconsin.

Crabb said she would decide at the end of the month whether to stay her decision while the case is on appeal, the paper said.

Van Hollen said that the "current law remains in force," and he issued his warning to country clerks in an attempt to end the rush of gay couples hoping to marry.

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