Van Hollen: Same Sex Couples Not Legally Married, Clerks Issuing Licenses Could be Prosecuted
By Patrick Lynn
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Thursday said recent same-sex marriages in Wisconsin are not legal, and county clerks risk being prosecuted if they issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
“You do have many people in Wisconsin basically taking the law into their own hands and there can be legal repercussions for that,” Van Hollen said. “So, depending on who believes they’re married under the law and who doesn’t believe they’re married under the law may cause them to get themselves in some legal problems that I think are going to take years for them and the courts to work out.”
He added any prosecution would be up to district attorneys and not his office.
“The (state) constitution says only couples of the opposite gender can get married,” Van Hollen said. “Constitutions don’t defend themselves. They’re not worth the paper they’re written on if someone does not defend what’s in there.”
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb last week ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the law. Crabb has yet to instruct public officials how to proceed, .
Portage County is one of only 9 in the state which is not issuing marriage licenses for same sex couples. County Clerk Shirley Simonis said she’s following the legal advice of Corporation Counsel for the time being.