The State of Wisconsin's Gay Marriage Ban Is Kind of a Mess Right Now

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On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb issued a ruling against Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban. Since then, clerks and couples across the state have struggled to interpret her judgement — specifically, whether the ruling allowed for same-sex marriages to begin immediately in the state. That means that for the past two days some counties have issued licenses, while others have declined to do so. On Monday, Crabb addressed the confusion by, well, not clearing up very much at all. Crabb did not issue a stay, meaning same-sex marriages may continue in Wisconsin. However, she also let everyone know that her order was never intended to allow same-sex marriage to begin immediately.  

Confused? So were a lot of people. On Friday, Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner explained that the decision from Crabb did not come with an injunction, the thing that tells everyone how the judge thinks the decision should be enforced. Crabb instead asked both sides of the debate to provide additional materials for her future consideration of whether her ruling would come with a stay pending appeal — meaning that we wouldn't learn whether Crabb wanted Wisconsin to start enforcing her ruling or not until later in June. That's not what some Wisconsin counties decided, however. Apparently because the ruling was issued without a stay, some county clerks decided to go ahead and issue licenses. At least 41 counties in the state were marrying same-sex couples as of Monday, according to the AP. Several have said they will not. 

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On Monday, as the Journal-Sentinel notes, Crabb addressed Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's request for a stay. She declined to give it, but also addressed what she intended her ruling to accomplish: 

When asked by state attorneys Monday about that inconsistency among counties, Crabb said that was an issue for state courts to decide if needed, not her. She said that, though she had struck down the marriage ban, she had given no orders on it so far to state and local officials in Wisconsin, so she had nothing to halt.

"They did not act because I told them they could," Crabb said of county officials. "I never said anything about whether any county clerk could go forward and issue a marriage license. That hasn't been decided."

Pretty much everyone expects an appeals court to give the state its stay later this week, so the short window Crabb left to those couples able to marry in some Wisconsin counties will probably close, soon. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.