Attorney and county clerk: Same-sex marriages are legal even if state doesn’t process licences

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A county clerk, and an attorney have spoken out to say that hundreds of same-sex marriages in the state of Wisconsin are legal, despite that the state Vital Records Office is not processing their marriage licences.

A spokeswoman for the Vital Records Office said on Tuesday that the office had not yet received guidance from the state’s Attorney General JB Van Hollen, on how to proceed.

In the mean time the office is holding, but not processing, the marriage licences.

Dan County Clerk Scott McDonell and attorney Tamara Packard have said that couples who have had a marriage licence issued, and held a ceremony, they are immediately married.

Packard said there were no legal ramifications for couples whose marriage licences are not processed by the office.

McDonell said that not filing a marriage licence with the state does not necessarily mean that it is not valid.

US District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban on Friday, and did not stay her own ruling. Despite not specifically saying counties could begin to issue marriage licences, many did so immediately.

Republican Attorney General J B Van Hollen asked Judge Crabb to stay her own ruling to stop gay and lesbian couples from marrying in the state. On Monday, she refused to do so, but indicated that she might still in future.

Van Hollen also appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay in the case. 

The appeals court has given the ACLU and the state until Wednesday to file briefs around whether it is within its jurisdiction to intervene in the case.

Hundreds of same-sex couples have married since 45 out of the state’s 72 counties began issuing marriage licences to gay and lesbian couples on Friday.

According to reports, Van Hollen’s office has contacted the Vital Records Office, but no announcement has been made about what, if any advice has been given.