Wisconsin ‘Gamesmanship’ Shouldn’t Block Gay Unions: ACLU

Wisconsin gay marriages ought to be allowed until the state follows through on announced plans to challenge a federal court ruling that its ban on same-sex unions is unconstitutional, according to the ACLU.

American Civil Liberties Union lawyers today asked U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb in Madison to lift her June 13 order delaying implementation of her decision a week before to strike down the ban.

At least 400 marriage licenses were issued to gay couples in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s two biggest cities, before she imposed the stay. The ACLU’s lawyers accused the state of “gamesmanship” in pressing Crabb, appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago to delay the June 6 decision, then failing to file formal notice of their intent to seek its reversal.

Twenty-eight states have deemed same-sex marriage legal by court ruling, legislation or popular vote. Since Crabb’s ruling, similar laws have since been struck down in Indiana and Kentucky. Both have been delayed pending appeals.

“We will abide by all the rules in filing our appeal,” Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, said today in an e-mailed statement.

The state’s lawyers have until July 21 to file that notice with the federal appeals court in Chicago, which will also review the Indiana ruling being challenged by state officials there.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver on June 25 upheld a Salt Lake City judge’s decision to strike down Utah’s ban, making it the first federal appeals court to weigh in on the spate of challenges triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. The high court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act but didn’t address state bans on gay marriage. The Denver appeals court ruling is also delayed to allow for appeals.

Stays delaying the enforcement of decisions to invalidate same-sex marriage bans are currently in place in Oklahoma, Michigan, Virginia, Idaho and Arkansas.

The case is Wolf v. Walker, 14cv00065, U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

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