Gay Marriages Continue in Wisconsin—But Trouble Looms

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 9 2014 8:15 PM

Gay Marriages Continue in Wisconsin—But Trouble Looms

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Wisconsin elected the first openly gay senator in history, Tammy Baldwin. Isn't it about time the state gets marriage equality, too?

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb—who recently struck down Wisconsin's gay marriage ban—refused to stay her ruling, meaning same-sex marriages can continue in the state for the time being. Without an order from the governor or attorney general, only about two dozen of Wisconsin's 72 counties are handing out marriage licenses to gay couples. (That includes Madison, where police officers brought cake to the newlyweds.) In the rest of the state, county clerks are refusing to marry same-sex couples, citing the legal tumult over the ban.

In one sense, they might be wise to resist: It's unlikely that gay marriages will continue in Wisconsin for much longer in the short-term. In her original opinion, Crabb set a hearing for June 19 at which the state's conservative Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen can argue once again for a stay. Crabb is widely expected to grant a stay then; if she doesn't, the matter falls into the hands of the 7th Circuit, which will almost certainly halt marriages until the state can formally appeal. 

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No matter the resolution of this current legal drama, marriage equality across the United States has become an increasingly settled issue. Ever since the Supreme Court's ruling last year overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, not a single federal judge has upheld a gay marriage ban. Amusingly, another gay-friendly ruling from the justices might come as a relief to Republican governors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker, who is clearly exhausted with gay marriage as a political issue and ready to wash his hands of it. The rest of the country, it seems, is pretty much ready to do the same.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

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