MILWAUKEE — Gay couples across Wisconsin rushed to wed Monday, as more than half of the counties in the state began issuing licenses ahead of an expected hold on a ruling that the state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.
US District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison struck down the ban Friday in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the prohibition. But she didn’t order county clerks to begin issuing licenses or block them from handing them out. She said she wants the ACLU to draft an order spelling out how it wants her decision implemented.
Her stance has left county clerks to decide on their own whether they can legally issue licenses to same-sex couples. Clerks in Milwaukee and Madison, the state’s liberal hubs, began issuing licenses to same-sex couples within hours of the ruling.
At least 42 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday. Clerks in a handful of counties did not answer phone calls. Many, but not all, also waived the state’s five-day waiting period.
Dozens of couples were initially refused licenses in Appleton, Green Bay, and elsewhere Monday while county clerks in those communities sought advice from the Wisconsin Vital Records Office, which keeps marriage records.