Same-sex marriages were temporarily halted in Wisconsin Friday after a federal judge issued a stay on her decision to allow county clerks to issue marriage licenses.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, a week after ruling the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, placed an injunction Friday on enforcement of the state’s ban, meaning the state is prohibited from enforcing the ban.
But Crabb also put her injunction on hold, waiting for a higher court to rule on the issue, and in effect, stopping the same-sex marriages that had been happening in numerous counties across the state.
Crabb said she needed to follow legal precedent laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court and expressed the difficulty of her actions in her decision.
“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,” Crabb said. “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.”
Crabb last week had ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, saying the ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which sued to strike down the ban, said it is pleased with Crabb’s latest ruling.
“In light of the stay, we will do everything we can to expedite the case for a quick ruling on appeal,” ACLU attorney John Knight said in a statement. “This is about basic liberty and equality for people who are being harmed daily by laws which deny them and their families the same basic protections and respect that other couples take for granted.”
It is unclear what the developments mean for the same-sex couples across the state that got married after most county clerks decided to issue them marriage licenses.
In a statement, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, said Crabb’s stay “makes [it] abundantly clear” that those clerks did not have the authority to do so.
Van Hollen said he is appealing to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
“I am very pleased that Judge Crabb has followed the lead of courts across the country, including the United States Supreme Court, and fully stayed her ruling,” Van Hollen said. “By staying this ruling, she has confirmed that Wisconsin’s law regarding same-sex marriage remains in full force and effect.”