APPLETON – Both sides in the fight over same-sex marriages in Wisconsin are headed back to federal court Friday afternoon for a hearing that could determine whether the weddings can continue.
The hearing before U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb comes exactly one week after she struck down the state’s ban on gay marriages as unconstitutional.
But Crabb did not issue any orders as to how state officials were to implement her decision, leading to confusion over whether clerks could marry people and whether those marriages are legal.
“It’s clear to me, the federal judge has kind of exacerbated this by the fact it is a confusing decision. I mean she issued the decision, but then left the door open and has not made it clear one way or the other,” said Governor Scott Walker Friday.
Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen wants Crabb to put her ruling on hold, which would stop marriages in the state while he appeals her underlying ruling.
Van Hollen said Thursday that same-sex couples with marriage licenses aren’t legally married because Crabb hasn’t issued an order telling county clerks how to interpret her ruling striking down the law.
The attorney general also said district attorneys could charge clerks who issued licenses with a crime. Walker had little to say about whether Van Hollen should do that.
“For me I’d have to leave that to the attorney general. I don’t have any bearing on that and I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t really have good counsel on that. But as I’ve said before, years ago, like the majority of the people in the state, I voted for the measure that’s now in the state’s constitution,” Walker said.
Walker also said the people of Wisconsin didn’t elect him to focus on gay marriage, but rather job creation.
“It’s not about ignoring the issue. It’s just the simple fact that when people hired me four years ago they hired me to focus on the economic and fiscal issues of the state, and that’s what I try to stay focused on,” said Walker.
Walker said if Crabb issues a stay Friday, it doesn’t change anything from the administration’s standpoint, as its procedures are administrative. He added it’s up to Van Hollen.