Wisconsin Attorney General: Clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses could be punished

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The Wisconsin Attorney General has warned clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses that they could face punishment for doing so.

US District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban on Friday, and did not stay her own ruling, allowing clerks to decide to marry same-sex couples immediately.

Clerks in 45 out of 72 counties opted to take advantage of the ruling, marrying hundreds of couples over the past week.

However, Republican Attorney General J B Van Hollen is attempting to stop the ruling, and has applied for an emergency stay to put the ban back in place.

Today, Van Hollen directly warned the clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses that they could be punished.

He said: “You do have many people in Wisconsin basically taking the law into their own hands and there can be legal repercussions for that

“So, depending on who believes they’re married under the law and who doesn’t believe they’re married under the law may cause them to get themselves in some legal problems that I think are going to take years for them and the courts to work out.

“That’s going to be up to district attorneys, not me. There are penalties within our marriage code, within our statutes, and hopefully they’re acting with full awareness of what’s contained therein.”

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell scoffed at the statement, telling the Journal-Sentinel that potential punishment “doesn’t keep me up at night”.

He added: “[Van Hollen] needs to call off the dogs and turn off the fire hoses”.