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June 10, 2014 | 05:11 PM
ELKHORN — As of Monday, Walworth County was not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to Walworth County Clerk Kim Bushey.

Bushey said a same-sex couple was at her office at 8:30 a.m. Monday seeking a marriage license.

“I also got one call at home over the weekend and an email,” Bushey said. Both asked whether Walworth County is issuing licenses for same-sex marriages.

Bushey said that, on advice of county Corporation Counsel David Bretl, the clerk’s office is holding off issuing the licenses until a federal judge rules whether to halt enforcement of the current state law, which bans same-sex marriage.

That ruling won’t happen until at least Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Bushey, a Republican, said she also contacted several other county clerks’ offices and found they were doing the same. Clerks’ offices in the state’s two most populous counties, Dane and Milwaukee, are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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. Jody Rendall, director of the LGBT of Walworth County, said she couldn’t be happier over Crabb’s decision.

“Since the amendment to ban gay and lesbian marriage was passed in this State in 2006, attitudes have changed — both in this State and all over the country. We live in an evolving society,” Rendall wrote in an email to the Regional News. “In our communities those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender are being accepted and appreciated by neighbors, family, and those in the workplace. The public is coming to see that we’re people, like everyone else and are entitled to, not special rights, but equal rights.”

The Regional News also contacted local Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, and Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, for comment.

“Since June of 2013, there have been 14 federal rulings against marriage protection laws, so I was not surprised by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling,” Loudenbeck said in an email. “I respect Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s decision to ask for clarity on the judge’s ruling and to appeal the decision. The attorney general is the chief legal officer of the state and has an obligation to uphold Wisconsin law and our Constitution.”

The newspaper didn’t receive a response from August.

At least 42 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday, according to a canvass by The Associated Press. Clerks in a handful of counties did not answer phone calls. Many, but not all, also waived the state’s five-day waiting period.

Dozens of couples were initially refused licenses in Appleton, Green Bay and elsewhere on Monday while county clerks in those communities sought advice from the Wisconsin Vital Records Office, which keeps marriage records. Nearly 100 people at the Outagamie County Clerk’s office in Appleton objected when told they could not apply for licenses.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Tags: County Report

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