Wisconsin renews marriage discrimination. Surprising – and not surprising – things we saw on the way.


*Link to an album of marriage photos from Saturday June 7, 2014 at Dane County Courthouse*

Same sex marriages are now on hold in Wisconsin following a June 13th decision by federal judge Barbara Crabb.

“Ending a week of uncertainty, a federal judge Friday ordered Wisconsin officials to stop enforcing the state’s gay marriage ban but then immediately put that order on hold while the historic case winds through months of appeals.

The 14-page order from U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in Madison halted the same-sex weddings taking place in most of the state and set up an appeal by the state to the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. The judge gave no indication whether the hundreds of same-sex marriages already performed will hold up in court.” – source

According to Wisconsin Gazette, “Crabb’s ruling puts more than 555 marriages that have already occurred in 60 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties in legal limbo, perhaps for years.”

It’s a disappointing development for the newly wedded couples.

I believe it will also prove to be a deeply disappointing development for Scott Walker.

I’ll get to the predictable parts but first – let’s review the surprises.

1) Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Threatened to Arrest County Clerks

By Thursday this week, 60 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties were issuing same-sex marriage licenses according to AP. Then this:

“Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Thursday that same-sex couples who have wed in recent days are not married in the eyes of the law and that county clerks issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples could be prosecuted.”source

Rated-G Wisconsinites began to swear like sailors on facebook when this news made the rounds.

Following, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board verbally spanked J.B. for for “political grandstanding” against clerks AND for appealing Judge Crabb’s ruling on same sex marriage.

And then on Friday J.B. Van Hollen sent around an email to district attorneys saying they could technically prosecute county clerks for issuing same sex marriage licenses, but that he did not explicitly suggest or recommend that DAs do so.

Those were just some dog whistle words for Scott Walker’s homophobic evangelical Christian and Catholic base?!

There was never a thought given to literally handcuffing clerks and hauling them into county jails!?

Such a pleasure to know – EVENTUALLY – by way of an email to “fellow prosecutors” that EVENTUALLY made its way into the Isthmus.

2) Scott Walker: Irrelevant

Shockingly, Scott Walker and I agree on something for once.


Online copy of “irrelevant” article.

Of course he doesn’t mean what I mean.

Suddenly he is the humble silent type instead of Governor Unintimidated. A little late for that – isn’t it?

He’s already served as poster boy for the internationally active anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage
Walker was out of the closet on his “Marriage is to be Between One Man and One Woman” message in 2005.

If Team Burke doesn’t capitalize on this, I’ll eat my cheese hat.

Now for the less surprising aspects of this drama.

1) *Of course* Van Hollen appealed Judge Crabb’s ruling in favor of marriage equality.

He’s not running for reelection so Van Hollen can serve as a pack mule bearing as much of Walker’s extremist ideology as can be carried into November.

2) In Kitchen v. Herbert the Supreme Court stayed same sex marriages in Utah where conditions are reasonably similar. This decision, Judge Crabb wrote, compels her to stay her own injunction.

3) The Walker administration has NEVER been thrifty when it comes to fighting in court for its ideology. It’s not as if Walker or Van Hollen has to pay for that – our tax dollars do!

When the Walker administration was commanded point blank to produce a cost-benefit analysis on the prosecution of hundreds of singing-in-the-rotunda citations it blew it off.

This fight will be no different in that respect.

However, this fight is very different in the respect that it interferes with a rite of passage that a majority of Americans and Wisconsinites now see as a right for all people everywhere. “Everywhere” includes rural Wisconsin.

Walker Loses This Round

Two counties immediately began issuing marriage licenses with added hours of service on Saturday: Dane and Milwaukee. Then on Monday the number of counties jumped to 52. By Thursday it was 60 counties. Because Judge Crabb did not offer specific guidance on license issuance, the roll-out took on the air of a rolling mess and so that led to protest and that led to plenty of news coverage.

Which is actually a pretty great thing if you think about it.

Two men staged a sit-in at the Winnebago County clerk’s office. A protest grew as couples waited for the clerk to issue licenses in Portage County. Protesters flooded Racine County [video included here and here]. In deeply red Ozaukee County two women rushed to the courthouse and were told no – then they went to the news to complain that their county wasn’t issuing licenses. One of the two women’s mom said, “It’s not fair. They love each other. We love them!”

The Anti-Walker team just gained a fresh set of recruits from the LGBTQ community and from all their friends and family who “get” how much this means to people they care about.

When moms are going on the news angry because a daughter was denied a right to marry … basically — Walker is on the losing side of history.

Walker is losing.

I didn’t blog for a while back there. My note of explanation is that I had a week from hell (that I don’t want to talk or write about). To people whose photo I took at the Dane County Courthouse – sorry for the delay. I have some pics of you HERE.


2 thoughts on “Wisconsin renews marriage discrimination. Surprising – and not surprising – things we saw on the way.

  1. Thanks for the comment. I’ve been hearing that J.B. is running for Supreme Court for maybe half a year now. Your comment is the first I have heard of a deal cut with J.B. on John Doe. Agreed on the media. They could have sunk the story if they wanted to. But who doesn’t love the spirit of a wedding? I mean it’s contagious! I don’t have to know anybody involved. All I have to do is look at a wedding photo and I get a little misty-eyed. As for the factioning of the GOP – yes. Wholly agree. You mention libertarians – -oddly enough I ran into my 1st *gay* libertarian in a restaurant. He was from Tennessee – just passing through with his partner who he calls “husband” despite the fact they can’t marry legally. He is not sure of the long term repercussions to some of their finances if they marry so he said he was not positive they should marry – -but he said they have zero hope that Tennessee will come around in time anyway so it’s a non-issue for the foreseeable future. P.S. – I confess to being about 2/3 done reading the decision. Thanks for mentioning how great it is (it really is). I’ll finish it today.

  2. bc, thanks. Sorry to hear about the week from hell.

    AFAIK, (lots and lots of speculation) JB’s decision NOT to run again for AG was part of a deal he cut with John Doe prosecutors. If you’re buying any of that, his long term landing spot was in WIGOP’s bullpen as a candidate for the State Supreme Court. IMHO, his “pack mule,” (great metaphor, thanks!) leadership for discrimination against LGBT community will hurt his electability for State Supreme Court.

    IMHO, credit to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the rest of the Wisconsin media on supporting marriage equality. IMHO those front-paged photos and stories of Wisconsin citizens WANTING to get married really carried the day.

    Libertarian side of the GOP couldn’t care less about marriage equality. IMHO, Crabb’s beautifully crafted ruling has really isolated the anti-LGBT faction of the GOP.

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