Tags: County Report
June 17, 2014 | 04:31 PMELKHORN — Just before 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Aimee and Katrina Jutz applied for their marriage license in Walworth County.
The Jutzes have been together for eight years and raise a 2 1/2-year-old son together. Being legally married is something that they have dreamed of for years.
That dream looked like it might become a reality on June 6 when Federal Judge Barbara B. Crabb ruled that Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
After Crabb’s ruling, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen vowed to appeal the decision and filed motions to stop same-sex marriages in Wisconsin until after his appeal was heard. He said county clerks who issue same-sex marriage licenses could even face criminal charges. Almost immediately after Crabb’s ruling, same-sex couples throughout the state began filing for marriage licenses. In Walworth County, Clerk Kim Bushey didn’t begin issuing marriage licenses until Wednesday, after she received advice from legal counsel that it was OK.
Between Wednesday and Friday, five same-sex couples filed paperwork to obtain their marriage licenses, including the Jutzes. When a couple, straight or gay, files for a marriage license, there is a state-wide five-day mandatory waiting period before the county can issue the actual marriage license.
After filing for their marriage license on Friday afternoon, Aimee and Katrina returned to their home in rural Darien.
At home they saw a news report that Crabb had put a temporary halt on Wisconsin counties issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The Jutzs were in limbo, and Aimee said she cried herself to sleep that night.
“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 wrote in the 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.”
Throughout the weekend, and into early Monday morning, Aimee and Katrina had no idea whether their license would be approved because of Crabb’s stay.
On early Monday morning, Aimee received what she called a “devastating” answer.
“I’m at a loss. The idea of being a legal stranger to my son is heart wrenching to me,” Aimee said while fighting back tears. “My name won’t change to him, my name is Mom. Regardless on whether his parents are married legally or not. I’m his mom, and Katrina is his mama.”
Aimee said Bushey told her that she wouldn’t be able to issue the license.
Aimee said Bushey felt bad about what had happened, and she offered to refund the $80 nonrefundable fee.
Bushey also told Aimee she would keep her license on file for the next 35 days, the amount of time she can keep it on record.
Why it’s important to the Jutzs
Aimee and Katrina met at a Christmas party about eight years ago. The couple worked at two different bars, which had the same owner.
Since 2011, Aimee and Katrina have been legally recognized as domestic partners.
In August 2011, they became domestic partners, and had a celebration with more than 200 guests.
Prior to their relationship being legally recognized, the couple decided to have a child.
On Nov. 29, 2011, Katrina gave birth to S. Jax Jurts. Katrina is her son’s legal guardian, and Aimee said in the eyes of the law she is a “legal stranger.”
“I cut his umbilical cord,” she said. “I was there for everything. I helped her through her whole pregnancy. I was her birthing coach. I held him first.”
However, Aimee doesn’t have any legal rights to her son, she said.
She said when she looked into getting parental rights, she learned that Katrina would need to surrender her parental rights in order for her to become an adoptive parent.
“That was obviously not an option,” she said.
For Aimee, she wants to ensure that she will be able to visit her son if he goes to the hospital.
So far, that hasn’t been an issue, and when S. Jax was rushed to the hospital with a respiratory issue, Aimee was able to see him.
“My big fear is her passing away and I won’t have any legal rights to him,” she said. “Although her parents are very supportive, very supportive to us.”
She also has fears that if she dies prematurely S. Jax won’t receive her benefits.
“If I pass away, my son is not going to have the benefit of having my Social Security,” she said. “If something were to happen to me, I would want him to be able to get my benefits. He is my child. It scares me.”