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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.
On the Racine County Eye Facebook page readers seemed to mostly support Crabb’s decision, but there was some discussion about who actually gets to define marriage.
“Awesome! At least (Wisconsin) got something right lately!” Traci McReynolds-Keriazakos posted.
Megan Klemm Niggemann sided with Crabb’s way of thinking.
“Everyone should be able to marry, there is no reason why they shouldn’t,” she wrote. “Religious definitions of marriage don’t matter, that’s why we have separation of church and state.”
Scot Bartels questioned who gets to choose the definition of marriage.
“While I do not have a problem with same-sex marriage … could someone please tell me then who gets to define what ‘marriage’ is or what ‘marriage’ is not?” he asked.
Only one reader posted comments supporting the amendment.
“Again…it will be appealed and upheld … Show me where in the US Constitution it says gay marriage is protected,” Duane Michalski wrote.
While Crabb’s decision is being hailed as progress, there is some confusion over whether or not the marriages performed Friday will be recognized while the case is before the appellate court, according to a story at jsonline.com.
The judge neither issued a stay of her own ruling nor did she issued an order blocking the enforcement of the ban, the story reads. Van Hollen filed an emergency request for a stay to keep gay couples from rushing to court houses to get married.
“In light of the decision of some county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, I will be filing emergency motions in the federal courts to stay Judge Crabb’s order,” a second statement from the AG’s office reads. “The United States Supreme Court, after a referral from Justice Sotomayor, stayed a lower court’s decision striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. There is no reason to believe the Supreme Court would treat Wisconsin’s ban any differently.”
The Americans Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will file a proposed order Monday, the newspaper story continues, that would require state officials to stop enforcing the ban.