US: Wisconsin judge halts same-sex weddings

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Wisconsin judge has put a stop to same-sex weddings, less than a week after they began.

US District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban last Friday, and did not stay her own ruling.

Despite not specifically saying counties could begin to issue marriage licences, a number did so immediately.

Republican Attorney General J B Van Hollen had pressed Judge Crabb to stay her 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.

Crabb has now granted Van Hollen’s request, putting the same-sex marriage ban back into place for the time being, and stopping more couples from marrying.

Granting the stay, she wrote: “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.

“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.”

John Knight of the ACLU said: “We will fight for a quick resolution on appeal and are confident that marriage will be a reality in Wisconsin very soon for lesbian and gay couples who have waited much too long already.”

Van Hollen said in a statement that he was “very pleased” with the ruling.

He said: “County clerks do not have authority under Wisconsin law to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Judge Crabb’s stay makes this abundantly clear.”

The ruling did not addresss the over 500 couples who married in the past week, leaving uncertainty over whether their marriages will be recognised.

However, when previous rulings in Utah and Michigan were stayed after couples has begun to marry, the marriages were still recognised.