County officials: State guidance needed on same-sex marriage licenses


OSHKOSH- Confusion and lack of help from the state: That’s what county officials say they’ve faced when trying to process the same sex marriage licenses issued last week.

Judge Barbara Crabb’s decision halted same sex marriages in Wisconsin late Friday afternoon.

Since then, workers at county clerk and register of deeds offices say they have been waiting for more direction from the state.

“We all just feel like we’re on our own and everybody’s in limbo,” said Julie Pagel.

Pagel is the register of deeds in Winnebago County. She says she processed the same-sex marriage licenses last week like any other.

“They came in, they were filed. At that point, they’re a legal document. We process them, we issued the certified copies, they paid the fees and off they go,” said Pagel.

Pagel mailed the license copies to Madison. She says she is unsure if the licenses received by the State Office of Vital Records in Madison were processed.

That office declined our request for interview.

It sent an email saying: “The Wisconsin State Office of Vital Records is responsible for performing administrative duties of registering, maintaining and preserving records. The county Corporation Counsels may be able to provide you with comment regarding your legal questions.”

In Brown County, the register of deeds says her office certified the licenses, but they weren’t sent off.

“Because of all the confusion and because I was out of the office on Friday and Monday on vacation, I told my staff to hold the batch in this case. Normally we would send them Friday sometimes we send on Monday,” Cathy Williquette Lindsay, the Brown County Register of Deeds, explained over the phone Tuesday.

Counties say they’ve spoken with their corporation counsels, and more help from the state or courts to clarify what will stand as legal is needed.

“We’re all hoping for some kind of resolution and soon to this,” said Pagel.

The attorney general’s office said Friday that the state’s same-sex marriage ban remains in full effect for now.

However, Crabb’s ruling did say the ban was unconstitutional. It will head to the seventh district court of appeals in Chicago.

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