County officials in Wisconsin started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples within minutes of a federal judge’s ruling overturning the state’s gay marriage ban.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling late in the afternoon declared the law unconstitutional but also asked the couples who sued to describe exactly what they wanted her to block in the law. She then gave the state attorney general’s office a chance to respond, saying she would later decide whether to put her decision on hold while it is appealed. But that didn’t stop clerks in Madison and Milwaukee from performing marriages immediately, even though the Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Chris Ahmuty, director of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law in court, said the ruling did not clear the way for marriages to begin. Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said he would keep his courthouse open until 9 p.m. so same-sex couples could get married.
Van Hollen said that, in light of clerks going ahead with marriages, he would file emergency motions in federal courts to put Friday's order on hold.