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Wisconsin AG: County clerks may be prosecuted for issuing same-sex marriage licenses

The scene at the Winnebago County Clerk's Office in Oshkosh, June 11, 2014, after the clerk decided to accept applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples. (Photo from: FOX 11).
The scene at the Winnebago County Clerk's Office in Oshkosh, June 11, 2014, after the clerk decided to accept applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples. (Photo from: FOX 11).

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin's attorney general warned Thursday that county clerks might be hauled into court if they issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Republican J.B. Van Hollen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the same-sex couples who had weddings since last Friday are not married in the eyes of the law. He said he did not believe that the gay couples themselves could be prosecuted -- but there are penalties for the county clerks who allow it to happen, and Van Hollen says he hopes they realize it.

The AG said it would be up to local district attorneys, and not him, to file charges.

More than 50 of Wisconsin's 72 counties have been issuing same-sex marriage licenses, after Federal Judge Barbara Crabb ruled six days ago that the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Crabb has been silent on how counties should respond to her ruling. Since then, the ACLU has filed a request for Judge Crabb to allow the counties to grant same-sex licenses, and to have the state recognize similar unions from other states.

Crabb will consider that request at a court hearing Friday. A legal response from the state says the federal court cannot change the terms "husband" and "wife" on the state's marriage license forms.

Supporters of same-sex marriages have told couples that their window is probably short, since either the district and-or appellate federal courts will put Crabb's ruling on hold until the state finishes appealing.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)

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