BREAKING: Federal judge puts same-sex marriages in Wisconsin on hold, uncertainty looms for those who already married in Wisconsin over the last week, In other words, there's still confusion in Wisconsin.
MADISON, Wis. — Same-sex marriages have been put on hold in Wisconsin by a federal judge who last week struck down the state’s gay marriage ban as unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling Friday means that same-sex marriages, which have been taking place across the state for a week, will end while the case is pending.
MADISON, Wis. — A federal judge on Friday put same-sex marriages in Wisconsin on hold, a week after she struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional, a move that allowed more than 500 couples to wed over the last eight days.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling Friday means that gay marriages will end while the appeal from Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is pending. Couples who were in the middle of the five-day waiting period to get a license, which most counties waived, are caught in limbo.
Van Hollen requested Crabb put her ruling on hold, arguing that allowing the marriages while the underlying case was pending created confusion about the legality of those marriages.
Crabb, who held a 30-minute hearing before issuing her written order, hinted strongly that she was likely to halt further marriages because the U.S. Supreme Court had done that in a similar case out of Utah.
But in her order, she expressed mixed feelings about it.
“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 said in her order. “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.”
The ruling came exactly one week after Crabb ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. But Crabb didn’t issue any orders on how state officials were to implement her decision, and amid the uncertainty, nearly every Wisconsin county – 60 of 72 – issued licenses.
Crabb issued an order preventing clerks from denying same-sex couples marriage licenses, but then put that on hold as well as her earlier ruling striking down the law as unconstitutional.
John Knight, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law, called her decision to put her order on hold disappointing.
“But we will fight for a quick resolution on appeal and are confident that marriage will be a reality in Wisconsin very soon for lesbian and gay couples who have waited much too long already,” he said in an email.
Van Hollen had no immediate reaction.
As of midday Thursday, 555 same-sex couples had gotten married in the state, based on an Associated Press survey of all 72 counties. There was a rush to get married in Madison and Milwaukee on June 6, when Crabb released her decision, and then again earlier this week throughout the state as other counties began issuing licenses.
Van Hollen said Thursday that same-sex couples with marriage licenses aren’t legally married because Crabb hasn’t issued an order telling county clerks how to interpret her ruling striking down the law. Van Hollen also said district attorneys could charge clerks who issued licenses with a crime.
Crabb reiterated in Friday’s 30-minute hearing that clerks were issuing licenses to same-sex couples on their own.
“I never told them not to and I never told them to do it,” Crabb said.
The ACLU and others say because Crabb found the law unconstitutional, and didn’t order clerks not to issue licenses, they could legally give them to couples seeking to get married.
Crabb’s order did not address whether same-sex marriages completed over the past week are valid.
Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment, approved by 59 percent of voters in 2006, outlawed gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The ACLU said the ban violated the constitutional rights of eight gay couples to equal protection and due process and Crabb agreed.
Gay rights activists have won 15 consecutive lower court cases since a landmark Supreme Court ruling last summer, with Wisconsin being the latest.
Wisconsin is among 13 states with gay marriage cases pending before appeals courts. Twelve are with six different federal appeals courts, and one in Arkansas is before a state appeals court. A final ruling on Wisconsin’s case likely is months away.
The cases that are furthest along originated in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, based on decisions issued in December, January and February. Federal appeals court judges have heard arguments in those cases, and rulings are expected soon.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to weigh in during its next session beginning in October.
Developing story, check back for updates.
MADISON, Wis. — A law enforcement union filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the constitutionality of a Wisconsin law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers.
The lawsuit brought by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association seeks to strike down the law, championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, as a violation of constitutional rights of free speech, association and equal protection. While state troopers and motor vehicle inspectors were exempted from the law, University of Wisconsin officers, Capitol police and Department of Transportation field agents were not.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s spokeswoman Dana Brueck issued a statement saying the complaint was under review.
"We believe (the law) is constitutional, and that we’ll ultimately prevail," she said.
The lawsuit comes less than two months after a Dane County judge ruled the law unconstitutional as it applies to school district and local government workers. That ruling came in a case brought by Madison teachers and Milwaukee city workers. It did not apply to state workers. Van Hollen is appealing that ruling.
The new lawsuit filed in Dane County Circuit Court challenges the law as it pertains to law enforcement officers who had been represented for collective bargaining purposes by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association.
The law, which applies to nearly all public workers, allows collective bargaining only for base salary increases no greater than the rate of inflation. Collective bargaining over other issues, such as workplace safety, hours and job security, is not allowed.
It also required workers to pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits, a move Walker said was necessary to plug a $3.6 billion budget gap. It also did away with automatic union dues withdrawals and forced annual votes to keep unions organized.
Walker’s opponents said his true intent was not to balance the budget but to quash public unions, a strong political force typically for Democrats.
The WLEA said in a statement that the law “fractured the union and the solidarity of its members, undermining their ability to join together and advocate for the best conditions to keep Wisconsin roads and communities safe.”
MADISON, Wis. — A judge has rejected the state of Wisconsin’s request to put on hold his earlier ruling striking down large portions of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious collective bargaining law.
Dane County District Judge Juan Colas on Monday released his ruling rejecting the request for a stay.
Colas in September ruled the law stripping most public workers of nearly all their union rights violates teachers and local government workers’ free speech, free association and equal protection rights.
Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen had asked for a stay while he appeals.
h/t: Huffington Post