Federal judge to hold hearing on same-sex marriage ban Friday
MILWAUKEE - The same federal judge who struck down Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage, holds a hearing in Madison Friday afternoon. Judge Barbara Crabb will hear arguments on what she should have state officials do next.
Crabb's ruling last week did not order county clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. But clerks gave out licenses within minutes of her ruling.
For the first time since that historic ruling, we're hearing from Governor Scott Walker on the issue.
Walker, who is running for re-election this year and eyeing a bid for president in 2016, campaigned strongly in support of the same-sex marriage ban nine years ago.
"My position has been clear," he told reporters Thursday. "I voted on the issue in the past. But right now, my opinion doesn't really matter in this case."
Walker is staying mostly silent on the issue, only saying he believes Wisconsin Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, is doing the right thing by challenging the Judge Crabb's ruling.
"As part of our oath we're obligated to uphold the constitution of the state," Walker says. "It's not just a rule or a law. The same-sex marriage ban is in the state's constitution, as enacted by the voters."
Meanwhile, Van Hollen released a statement Thursday, saying any county clerk who issues a marriage license to a gay couple could be charged with a crime.
He points to the fact that under state law, county clerks can be jailed for up to nine months and fined up to $10,000 for issuing marriage licenses that aren't allowed.
Van Hollen says same-sex couples who've gotten married over the past week are not legally married at all. That's because Crabb hasn't issued an order or any direction for clerks to issue licenses. He's asked her to block gay marriages while he pursues an appeal.
This heated debate angers Pat Aken and Sharon Williams, who waited 30 years to say "I Do," and have it count.
"My life is not a chess board," Williams says. "And that's what I feel like. They're playing politics. I just wish people who live their lives, and let us live ours."
For now, it seems the game is only getting more complicated. Political activist, Bob Braun, filed a lawsuit against the Milwaukee County Clerk's Office Thursday for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
"That's unconstitutional," Braun says. "I fought to have that ban in place. If we have to have the sheriff start arresting people here at the courthouse, that's what we're going to do."
The Milwaukee County Clerk, Joseph Czarnezki, says he consulted with county attorneys after Judge Crabb's ruling, and determined it was okay to issue same-sex marriage licenses.