Updates on Idaho, Wisconsin


Idaho’s stay on the ruling against its marriage equality ban will expire at 9:00 am on October 15, at which point same-sex couples will be allowed to marry.

Although Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office initially opposed the stay, court records show that their opposition was withdrawn prior to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to let it expire. Wasden’s office, in addition to the state of Idaho, said they have no objections to the stay being lifted.

In contrast, Governor Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter is maintaining his opposition to same-sex marriage, claiming that the federal government being allowed to overrule state laws will discourage Idaho residents from voting in elections.

In Wisconsin, although Governor Scott Walker had also fought to uphold his state’s ban, he announced on October 13 that the legal status of hundreds of same-sex couples who married in the state in June 2014 will be recognized.

On June 6, US District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that Wisconsin’s ban on marriage equality was unconstitutional, but did not specify until June 8 that she had not intended for her ruling to be effective until after she issued a court injunction. By that time, more than half of the counties in Wisconsin were issuing licenses to all couples, and it wasn’t until June 13 that she issued a stay on her ruling, putting a halt to same-sex marriages in the state.

Due to conflicting statements on the legality of marriage equality, the Wisconsin Vital Records Office initially chose to wait to process same-sex couples’ marriage licenses. The uncertainty remained until Walker’s office released its statement, which directs state agencies to update marriage applications and other forms to comply with the law. According to the Appleton Post Cresent, the directive also says “the state will be treating licenses issued in June as valid marriage licenses.”

Walker’s office told press that state agencies will confer with the state Department of Justice to ensure that new guidelines regarding same-sex marriages are consistent.

In 2006, Walker voted in favor of Wisconsin’s ban on marriage equality, but as public opinion has shifted in the other direction and his race for re-election as governor has remained too close to call, he has become more tight-lipped on the issue. Though he defended the ban in court, he said that his motivation was to uphold state law.

In September, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin, seeking to have the June marriages recognized as valid. An October 13 press release quoted Kiersten Bloechl-Karlsen, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, as saying, “Marriage upholds the values we hold dear: commitment, stability, responsibility and most importantly, family. We are so happy that the vow that we made to each other will now be honored by our state and our country.

“In our case, I’ve been a mother to our little girl since the day she was born but was unable to sign her birth certificate. We can now pursue a second parent adoption so that our right as a family to remain legally connected to each other, no matter what happens, is not compromised.”


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