A flurry of activity at Madison’s City County Building and the Milwaukee County Courthouse over the weekend, in the wake of a court decision late Friday striking down Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage.
The Dane and Milwaukee County clerks stayed open late on Friday and most of the day Saturday, offering hundreds of same sex couples a chance to apply for a marriage license and have ceremonies performed nearby. Between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, they issued a combined 283 marriage licenses.
Linda Finn and her partner Emily Jones decided to get married Saturday in Madison, even though they had not initially planned to do so. Finn said that “after 34 years, you’re pretty sure she’s going to be there the next day,” but they were inspired to tie the knot after watching so many other couples celebrate the decision overturning Wisconsin’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell says Friday’s ruling was one they had been preparing for, with staff ready to volunteer their time to help process the expected wave of couples seeking a marriage license and judges standing by to perform ceremonies. He says it was an emotional and intense weekend around his office.
Amid the celebrations, there were some lingering concerns about whether the marriages performed over the weekend would be allowed to stand, if an appeals court issues a stay on Friday’s decision. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed an emergency order Friday night asking U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to stay her decision while the state appeals. If a stay is eventually issued, McDonell says the marriages performed so far could be put in limbo, “but the law of the land right now is same sex marriage is legal.”
Dylan Brogan contributed to this report.