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Wisconsin's gay marriage ban struck down; emergency stay motion filed


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) – A federal judge in Madison has overturned Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb called the 2006 law unconstitutional. In her ruling, Crabb didn’t make it clear whether gay marriages could begin right away.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who already was ready to appeal the decision, filed another motion for an emergency stay of the ruling. Van Hollen cited a similar case in Utah where a stay was granted.

Van Hollen believes the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually decide this issue, and he’s concerned about the confusion and the ability to issue marriage licenses that may or may not be recognized when the court decisions are final.

That motion was filed early Friday evening, but the U.S. District Court has yet to respond. Meantime, Milwaukee and Dane County clerks were staying open late Friday to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The suit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 8 same-sex couples.

Wisconsin becomes the 27th state were same-sex couple can marry under law, or a judge has struck down laws to ban same-sex marriage.

Governor Scott Walker's press secretary Laurel Patrick issued this statement:

“It is correct for the Attorney General, on this or any other issue, to defend the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, especially in a case where the people voted to amend it.”

Walker's potential Democratic challenger Mary Burke put out this statement Friday:

“Today is a great day for Wisconsin and committed couples who love each other across the state. Every loving couple should have the freedom to marry whomever they choose, and the fact that this freedom is now available in Wisconsin is something we all can and should be proud of.”

Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson issued this statement after the ruling:

“Today’s decision out of Wisconsin marks the twentieth consecutive ruling by a federal or state judge since last year that a discriminatory state marriage ban is unconstitutional. Across the country, the courts agree: same-sex couples and their families need the dignity of marriage, and anti-marriage laws are indefensible. With over 70 marriage cases now making their way through the courts, today’s decision in Wisconsin underscores that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry. It’s time now for the Supreme Court to bring resolution nationwide.”

(Additional reporting by WSAU's Larry Lee).