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Wedding ringsUntil the U.S. District Court issues an order and receives guidance from the state, Racine County officials will wait to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Wendy Christensen, Racine County Clerk, ultimately has the final choice, said Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig.

“It’s ultimately Wendy’s decision but that is what our corp counsel is recommending and I believe she will follow that recommendation,” Ladwig said.

Ladwig isn’t sure when the order will be issued, he said.

The ban against gay marriage was overturned Friday by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, and county clerks in several communities kept later hours to process marriage licenses for same-sex couples and even perform some marriages.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a statement shortly after the decision was announced reaffirming his commitment to defending the state 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,” he wrote. “I will continue defend our Constitution and law in whatever forum is appropriate and I would hope my successor will fulfill this same oath and obligation.”

Voters in 2006 approved a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, but four couples recently filed suit against the state, saying the ban violated their constitutional rights.

In her ruling, Crabb said she couldn’t think about religious considerations but had to instead take into account whether or not the ban created a separate class of citizens.

“Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution,” Crabb’s decision reads.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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