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UPDATE: Wisconsin appeals ruling allowing gay marriages

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Statement from Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued the following statement after today’s ruling by Judge Barbara B. Crabb for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in the matter of Wolf, et al. v. Walker, et al.

“I am very pleased that Judge Crabb has followed the lead of courts across the country, including the United States Supreme Court, and fully stayed her ruling. By staying this ruling, she has confirmed that Wisconsin’s law regarding same-sex marriage remains in full force and effect.

“The state and all of its agencies and subdivisions must follow and enforce Wisconsin’s marriage law.  County clerks do not have authority under Wisconsin law to issue same-sex marriage licenses.  Judge Crabb’s stay makes this abundantly clear,” Van Hollen said.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice will file a notice of appeal with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, challenging the District Court’s underlying ruling that portions of Wisconsin’s marriage law and Article XIII, Section 13 of the state constitution violate the federal constitution. 

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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued the following statement today in response to the ruling released today by Judge Barbara B. Crabb for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in the matter of Wolf, et al. v. Walker, et al.

“As Attorney General, I have an obligation to uphold Wisconsin law and our 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.

Importantly, current law remains in force.  I am encouraged by the District Court’s refusal to issue an immediate injunction. We have seen the disruption to couples and families throughout the United States when courts have first allowed same-sex marriage only to have those marriages subsequently called into question by another court. I anticipate the United States Supreme Court will give finality to this issue in their next term.

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.”

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Dane County Executive Joe Parisi issued the following statement regarding U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s decision to overturn Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage.

“Judge Crabb’s decision is a victory for  fairness and equality in the state of Wisconsin.  As someone who fought against the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage while serving in the legislature, I am thrilled that it has been overturned in the name of fairness. I fully support the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

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Statement of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin Regarding U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

I join hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites in applauding Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling today and am delighted that same sex couples will now be able to have their families and love legally recognized in matrimony.

I absolutely agree with Judge Crabb who states, “Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution."

UPDATED Thursday, July 10, 2014 --- 3:02 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin has appealed a federal judge's ruling from last month striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed the appeal on Thursday as he indicated at the time of the original ruling he would. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled on June 6 that the ban, approved by voters in 2006, was a violation of gay couples' equal protection and due process rights.

For one week more than 500 same-sex couples got married in the state before Crabb put her ruling on hold pending the expected appeal.

The appeal will be heard by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of eight same-sex couples.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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UPDATED: Friday, June 13, 2014 -- 10:15pm

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.

"We've been warning people that if they got married now they might be in limbo for a while" says Steve Starkey, executive director of Outreach, an LGBT community center in Madison.

That's exactly the case for Amy and Cherry Pothoff, who got married in Wisconsin this past Tuesday. "I think there's every family in this state and even this country has some family member that's gay and would like to see them to be able to have the freedom to be able to love who you want," says Amy Pothoff.

Amy and Cherry are among around 500 same-sex couples who married over the past week are now left wondering whether their marriages are legitimate.

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UPDATED Friday, June 13, 2014 -- 5:08 pm.

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 gay marriages, which have been taking place across the state for a week, will end while the case is pending.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requested that Crabb's ruling be put on hold. Crabb last week declared the state's ban unconstitutional but did not tell the state how to proceed. On Friday she issued an order saying the weddings are legal, but then put it on hold per Van Hollen's request.

All but 12 of Wisconsin's 72 county clerks began issuing licenses to same-sex couples after Crabb's ruling last week, even though Van Hollen had argued that was premature.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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UPDATED Friday, June 13, 2014 --- 5:29 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Federal judge who struck down Wisconsin's gay marriage ban orders temporary halt to marriages.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb held a hearing Friday on the American Civil Liberties Union's proposal to require state officials to let gay couples marry and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, June 13, 2014 --- 1:54 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge who last week struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional is considering what steps to take next.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb held a hearing Friday on the American Civil Liberties Union's proposal to require state officials to let gay couples marry and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is objecting and also wants Crabb to put any ruling on hold while he pursues an appeal.

Both sides made arguments before Crabb on Friday, but the judge made no immediate ruling. Crabb said she would "probably" issue her written decision later in the day.

If she puts her ruling on hold, gay marriages would stop. If she does not, they could continue until a higher court takes action.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, June 13, 2014 --- 9:15 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Both sides of the fight over same-sex marriages in Wisconsin are headed back to federal court for a hearing that could determine whether the weddings can continue.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb scheduled the hearing for 1 p.m. on Friday. It comes exactly one week after Crabb struck down the state's ban on gay marriages as unconstitutional. But she did not issue any orders as to how state officials were to implement her decision.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues Crabb should order officials to let gay couples marry and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen objects, saying that request is too broad. He wants Crabb to put her ruling on hold, which would stop marriages in the state.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, June 11, 2014 --- 5:16 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Civil rights advocates are trying to persuade a federal appeals court it has no jurisdiction to end gay marriages in Wisconsin yet.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb found the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional last week in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit. County clerks have started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples even though Crabb has yet to issue an order telling them what to do.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen contends that absent such an order the ban remains in effect. He has asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the marriages while he appeals.

The ACLU filed a brief Wednesday arguing the court lacks jurisdiction until Crabb issues an order. State attorneys counter in their own brief that the court clearly has jurisdiction.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, June 11, 2014 --- 2:28 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The judge who struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriages has set a Friday hearing to hear arguments on what she should order state officials to do next.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on Wednesday set the hearing for 1 p.m. on Friday.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a proposed order that would require state officials to let gay couples marry and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen objected Wednesday, saying the ACLU's request was too broad. But Van Hollen also asked Crabb to act quickly.

Van Hollen also reiterates his request to Crabb that she put her ruling on hold pending his planned appeal, a move that that would put an end to gay marriages in the state for now.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, June 11, 2014 --- 12:43 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is asking a federal judge who struck down the state's ban on gay marriage to act quickly on an order telling state officials what to do next.

Van Hollen on Wednesday filed an objection to the proposed order submitted on Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of eight gay couples.

Van Hollen says the request by the ACLU is overly broad.

The Republican Van Hollen asks U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to issue her final ruling without any additional hearing or argument. He also reiterates his request to Crabb that she put her ruling on hold pending his planned appeal, a move that that would put an end to gay marriages in the state for now.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, June 10, 2014 --- 1:38 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The confusion over gay marriages in Wisconsin is getting thicker.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled the state's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit but hasn't ordered clerks to start issuing licenses or barred them from doing so. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to halt gay marriages pending an appeal.

The court asked both sides Monday to submit briefs on whether it has jurisdiction by Wednesday.

On Tuesday the court released an order saying it appears it lacks jurisdiction because Crabb isn't done with the case. The order told Van Hollen to file briefs showing why the court should continue with his request.

But the court later erased the order, saying it was mistakenly released.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, June 10, 2014 --- 9:16 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- It looks like a federal appeals court won't rule on whether to halt gay marriages in Wisconsin until at least Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down Wisconsin's gay marriage ban Friday in an American Civil Liberties lawsuit. She declared the ban unconstitutional but stopped short of ordering clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying she wants a draft ACLU order on how it wants the decision implemented. County clerks across the state have started issuing licenses anyway.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the marriages while he appeals.

The appellate court on Monday gave the state and ACLU until 5 p.m. Wednesday to file briefs on whether the court has jurisdiction in the case.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, June 9, 2014 --- 11:48 a.m.

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Some Wisconsin county clerks who initially said they would not issue marriage licenses to gay couples are doing so after couples insisted they would not be turned away.

Clerks in Appleton and Green Bay began accepting applications for licenses late Monday morning.

Couples have been going to county clerks' offices throughout Wisconsin seeking marriage licenses since a federal judge declared the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional on Friday.

Brown County Clerk Sandy Juno says she hoped for advice from the Wisconsin Vital Records Office, which keeps marriage records. But she says after she couldn't reach anyone at the office she decided to issue licenses to about 10 couples.

The Outagamie County clerk is accepting license applications after nearly 100 people refused to leave without them.

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UPDATED Sunday, June 8, 2014 --- 5:47 p.m.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Brown County clerk says she's waiting for guidance from state officials after a judge ruled Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Clerk Sandy Juno tells Press-Gazette Media she first needs guidance from state records officials on how to process such questions as naming a bride and groom on the license.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen plans to appeal the ruling and says the state's current ban on same sex marriage remains in place.

Dozens of gay couples got married at courthouses in Milwaukee and Madison Friday and Saturday, taking advantage of what may be a small window before Friday's ruling is possibly overturned.

Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt says the city will respect the decisions made at the county level.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Saturday, June 7, 2014 --- 1:30 p.m.

More gay couples are tying the knot in Wisconsin, now that the state's ban on gay marriage has been lifted.

The clerk's office in Madison stayed open late Friday night for same-sex couples looking to get marriage licenses, and is open again Saturday until 5 p.m.

Jamie and Beth Kernan have waited six years for this moment. They already captured the happiest day of their lives last fall.

"We had 200 of our family and friends and we had a very emotional ceremony and a big reception and party afterwards and that meant a lot to us," Beth said.

Yet something was missing at their wedding.

"This just feels more final and just exciting to have equal rights that all of our friends do," Beth said.

The Madison couple wasn't able to apply for a marriage license in Wisconsin until this weekend.

"It's just really special that it's in our home state in our home city," Beth said.

The 27-year-olds first met in college when they were in a triathlon training class at UW.

"There had been a lot of couples that met in that class, but I think we were the first same sex ones," Beth said.

"We're super adventurous together, we love doing new things and exploring our city," Jamie said.

They learned they could officially tie the knot Friday night, when Beth's brother texted them the good news. Saturday morning, he married them on the steps of the city county building along with dozens of other same sex couples doing the same.

"I think we bring out the best in each other and we love each other very much," Beth said.

The county clerk's office waived the usual five-day waiting period Saturday for couples who wanted to get married right after receiving their marriage license. They just had to pay an extra $25 to do so. The clerk's office is closed Sunday and resumes its regular hours Monday.
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UPDATED Friday, June 6, 2014 --- 7:36 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked a federal judge to issue an emergency order halting gay marriages.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage Friday. Within hours, clerks in Madison and Milwaukee began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But there's confusion over whether Crabb's order also halted enforcement of the ban since she gave both sides more time to describe exactly what they wanted her to block.

Van Hollen has promised to appeal the decision. He asked Crabb on Friday evening for an emergency ruling preserving the ban until she clarifies her ruling, saying confusion and uncertainty is resulting and the status quo must be preserved.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, June 6, 2014 --- 5:27 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage, and despite confusion over the ruling, clerks in Madison and Milwaukee say they'll start marrying people immediately.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb released her ruling late Friday, calling the ban unconstitutional.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he'll appeal the decision. But both he and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit challenging the ban, don't believe the ruling allows same-sex weddings to immediately begin.

Still, clerks in Madison and Milwaukee were planning to start marrying people right away.

Gay rights activists have won 15 consecutive lower court cases since a landmark Supreme Court ruling last summer, with Wisconsin being the latest. Many of those rulings are being appealed.

Copyright 2014: The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, June 6, 2014 --- 5:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Democrats are praising a federal judge's decision to overturn the state's gay marriage ban.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb's ruling deems the state's 2006 ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke called the ruling a victory for fairness and equality.

Congressman Mark Pocan says the ruling will end to poor treatment of gay couples.

Van Hollen said the ruling was a setback and he would appeal. Gov. Scott Walker hasn't issued a statement on the ruling.

Copyright 2014: The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, June 6, 2014 --- 4:02 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling it unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb issued the ruling Friday, but it wasn't clear whether same-sex marriages could immediately begin.

But the ruling makes Wisconsin the 27th state where same-sex couples can marry under law or where a judge has ruled they ought to be allowed to wed.

Clerks in the state's two largest cities of Milwaukee and Madison had been preparing for such a ruling by bringing in extra staff to handle an expected flood of marriage-license applicants.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of eight same-sex couples.

Gov. Scott Walker has been a strong proponent of the constitutional same-sex marriage ban that was approved by state voters in 2006.

Copyright 2014: The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, May 30, 2014 --- 2:01 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union is urging a federal judge to reject Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's request to stay any future ruling striking down Wisconsin's gay marriage ban.

A group of same-sex couples have filed a federal lawsuit arguing the ban denies gay couples civil rights that other married couples enjoy.

Van Hollen is defending the ban but has said he expects to lose. He asked U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb last week to place any ruling striking the ban down on hold while he appeals the decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ACLU filed a brief Friday arguing Van Hollen hasn't shown he could win an appeal or that the state would suffer irreparable harm if a ruling erasing the ban takes effect.

Copyright 2014: The Associated Press.

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UPDATED: Friday, May 23, 2014 --- 9:25pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says he doesn't know whether it would be good or bad for the state if gay marriage is legalized.

Walker was asked Friday about the state's current defense of the constitutional ban on gay marriage in light of an ACLU lawsuit challenging it.

Walker has been a longtime supporter of the ban and voted for it in 2006.

Walker says voters don't talk to him about gay marriage and it's not an issue for him as governor because ultimately the constitutionality of the law will be decided in court.

When asked whether legalizing gay marriage would be good for the state's economy and values, Walker said, "I don't know what it means."

Walker's likely Democratic opponent, Mary Burke, supports legalizing gay marriage.

Copyright 2014: The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, May 23, 2014 --- 10:17 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked a federal judge to place on hold any order she may make that would strike down the state's ban on gay marriage.

The Republican Van Hollen filed the contingent motion to stay on Friday, asking that current law remain in place while he appealed any future order.

It's another signal that Van Hollen expects U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to rule against the state. During an interview with WISN-TV last weekend, Van Hollen said he expects the state to lose its case.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight gay couples in February challenging Wisconsin's constitutional ban on gay marriage. The lawsuit contends the state's ban denies gay couples the civil rights that other married couples enjoy.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Thursday, May 1, 2014 --- 9:14 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge in Madison has dismissed three defendants from the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb dismissed the district attorneys in Eau Claire and Milwaukee counties, a move the ACLU did not oppose. Crabb says the case should be limited to public officials who are blocking the plaintiffs' access to marriage.

Eight same-gender couples filed the lawsuit in February, arguing the marriage ban denies them the civil rights that married couples enjoy.

The State Journal (http://bit.ly/1hWdN4E ) says Crabb also dismissed state revenue Secretary Rick Chandler because the plaintiffs have failed to show that he has any authority to decide whether same-sex couples can marry or receive tax benefits of married couples.

Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen are among defendants remaining in the case.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 25, 2014 --- 6:24 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has denied a motion by the state to stay the case involving the constitutionality of Wisconsin's marriage amendment.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on Monday said delaying the case would serve no purpose. The state filed a motion earlier this month asking that the case be stayed until the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules on the domestic partner registry.

The State Journal reports Crabb says the state has not explained specifically how the registry case is likely to change issues in the marriage amendment challenge. The amendment adopted in 2006 defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Eight same-sex couples have sued state officials, challenging the constitutionality of the amendment.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 5:01 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- State attorneys have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's gay marriage ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of a group of gay couples. They allege the ban is unconstitutional and state law makes it a crime for gay couples who marry out-of-state to return to Wisconsin.

State Justice Department attorneys filed a brief Thursday asking U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to throw the case out. They contend the right to marry doesn't include the right to gay marriage. They also argue the ban doesn't nullify gay marriages performed out of state -- it simply doesn't recognize them -- and plaintiff couples who married out-of-state aren't in danger of being prosecuted.

ACLU attorney John Knight didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, March 14, 2014 --- 4:34 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Attorneys representing Republican Gov. Scott Walker's administration have asked a federal judge to either delay a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's gay marriage ban or stay out of the case completely.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a group of gay couples alleging Wisconsin's ban is unconstitutional.

The state Justice Department is defending the ban on behalf of the Walker administration.

DOJ attorneys filed a brief with U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on Friday arguing she should stay the case until the state Supreme Court decides whether the state's domestic partner registry violates the ban.

They also argued Crabb should stay out of the matter because any ruling would apply only to three counties named as defendants, not statewide.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, February 28, 2014 --- 5:48 p.m.

Getting married in Wisconsin could soon become a reality for gay couples, at least temporarily.

Yesterday, the ACLU asked the courts to temporarily block the state from enforcing the constitutional ban against it.

Gay couples should have the right to get married, that's the ACLU's stance in the lawsuit. So instead of waiting for the suit to make it's way through the courts, they say they'll likely win, and want a judge to allow gay marriage in the meantime.

Back in 2006, gay marriage was banned in a constitutional amendment, by a statewide referendum. Since then, that's been the uncontested law.

But earlier this month, the ACLU along with 4 gay couples challenged that. The lawsuit argues that 17 states allow same sex couples to marry and that the ban deprives them of the legal protections that married couples receive just because of their sexual orientation.

Also currently, same sex couples who live in Wisconsin and leave the state to get married could face jail time and a $10,000 fine when they return.

If a judge approves the request, experts say gay couples will be able to apply for marriage certificates right away.

"I think they have a pretty good shot given what's happening elsewhere, around the country on this issue, two supreme courts last year and the case out of Utah which is federal as well," says UW Political Science Professor, Donald Downs.

Experts tell us this could become a sticky situation if the judge allows gay couples to marry and then the ACLU loses the lawsuit. Downs says in some cases states have invalidated the marriages that were already performed.

The hearing to determine if the marriage ban will be temporary lifted is at the end of March.
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UPDATED Friday, February 28, 2014 --- 10:03 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction blocking Wisconsin's gay marriage ban while the organization's lawsuit challenging the prohibition continues.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit Feb. 3 arguing the ban is unconstitutional.

The organization filed a motion Thursday with U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb seeking a preliminary injunction that would essentially invalidate the ban until the lawsuit is decided. In a brief accompanying the motion the ACLU argued they're entitled to a preliminary injunction because they'll likely win the lawsuit and the ban imposes irreparable harm on same-sex couples.

A spokeswoman for the state Justice Department, which is defending the ban, said the agency will respond in court. A hearing has been set for March 27.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Monday, February 3, 2014 --- 5:15 p.m.

A group of same-sex couples has filed a federal lawsuit challenging our state's ban on gay marriage, saying they want the same legal protections that married couples receive.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and a law firm filed a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of four same-sex couples who wish to marry in Wisconsin, or are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages.
Plaintiffs spoke about their personal experiences; many saying they're frustrated and hurt that their relationships aren't recognized under current law in the state.

"My partner and I are law abiding citizens. We're not setting out to disobey laws in Wisconsin; we love each other very much and we want the freedom to marry. And we're not going to break the law in Wisconsin to do that," said Plaintiff Judi Trampf.

The only way for Wisconsin couples to get the federal protections that come with marriage is for them to go out of state to marry. But Wisconsin law says that may be a crime punishable by nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The lawsuit names Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen as defendants. Spokespeople for both Walker and Van Hollen didn't immediately return messages. A 2006 amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution bars gay marriage or anything substantially similar. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry.

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UPDATED Monday, February 3, 2014 --- 12:36 p.m.
Posted Monday, February 3, 2014 --- 11:55 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A group of same-sex couples has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit for the couples in federal court in Madison on Monday morning. The lawsuit argues that 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry. It goes on to say Wisconsin's ban deprives same-sex couples of the legal protections afforded married couples for no reason other than their sexual orientation and gay Wisconsin couples who go out-of-state to marry could face prosecution when they return.

The lawsuit names Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen as defendants. Spokespeople for both Walker and Van Hollen didn't immediately return messages.

A 2006 amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution bars gay marriage or anything substantially similar.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.


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