County Clerks vow to begin marriages immediately, while Republican AG warns them not to, pending appeal
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2014, 4:17pm PT  

[Ed Note: Be sure to check out the great photos added at the bottom of this post! - BF]

To head into the weekend with some good news, a federal judge has now overturned Wisconsin's ban on marriage equality. So freedom comes to the Badger State, despite its Governor, Scott Walker's continuing effort against such freedom, and against Constitutionally conservative values. It's hardly the first time Walker has been on the wrong side of the Constitution, the wrong side of conservatism, and the wrong side of history.

"Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution," U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote in her 88-page ruling [PDF] striking down a state constitutional amendment passed in 2006, finding it in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

There's a bit of a legal skirmish ongoing tonight in the state, as Crabb did not stay her ruling pending the inevitable appeal, though suggested she might do so later after hearing responses from both sides of the lawsuit which was filed by the ACLU on behalf of eight gay couples.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has vowed to appeal, just as he did recently after losing the federal challenge to state Republicans' polling place Photo ID voting restriction. That statute, enacted by self-described "conservatives", was found by U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman to have placed draconian and discriminatory restrictions on yet another American freedom (the right to vote) in violation of both the Wisconsin state and federal Constitutions.

"Current law remains in force," Van Hollen says tonight about the ban on marriage equality, though few seem to be listening or agreeing. According to the Journal Sentinel, County Clerks in Dane and Milwaukee Counties have announced they will begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples immediately...

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, a Democrat, said he would issue marriage licenses beginning at 5 p.m. Friday into the evening. He said officials from the state Department of Justice advised him not to issue the licenses but he would move forward despite that.

"They don't get to tell me that," he said of DOJ. "A judge gets to...If someone comes to me, how could I say no to them?"

Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Van Hollen, had no immediate response on how the attorney general would respond to that.

Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki, a Democrat, said that his office would accept same-sex marriage applications until 9 p.m. Friday and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The county's corporation counsel advised him that the applications could be issued.

"Personally, I'm pleased she struck the ban down," he said. "It makes us proud to be in Wisconsin and a state that's standing up for marriage equality."
After a person applies for a marriage license there's a seven-day waiting period that can be waived by the county clerk unless a waiver is requested. A waiver can be granted at the discretion of the clerk and Czarnezki intends to grant the waiver, which could take an hour or two, his office said.

Then the couple can get married. Milwaukee County Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers will have judges available Friday night to marry couples, a clerk in the office said.

The ruling is the latest among an unbroken recent string of federal court decisions siding with Constitutional equal justice under the law. Similar rulings have been issued within the past several weeks in Pennsylvania, in Oregon, and elsewhere.

Wisconsin is now the 27th state in the union where same-sex couples are now legally allowed to be married or where courts have ruled they may do so (while some of those decisions have been stayed as the cases remain under appeal.)

Congrats, freedom lovers! And...On Wisconsin!

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UPDATE 5:02pm PT: Marriages now under way in Wisconsin! Sorry Scottie! Love conquers all, and no longer requires your approval!...

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