U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb said she issued the
stay at the request of Wisconsin officials who are appealing her
decision and to avoid further confusion among county clerks who
have issued hundreds of marriage licenses.
Crabb wrote in her opinion that she was required to follow the
guidance of the U.S. Supreme Court and issue a stay, despite
finding it difficult "after seeing the expressions of joy on the
faces of so many newly wedded couples."
The judge's ruling last Friday that Wisconsin's 2006 ban
violated the U.S. Constitution brought a rush to county clerks
offices and a flurry of marriages. Crabb's order Friday did not
address the status of the marriages.
According to Fair Wisconsin, an LGBT advocacy organization, 61
of the state's 72 county clerks have issued marriage licenses to
same-sex couples since the ruling. A Reuters tally found that
more than 500 gay couples have applied for or have been granted
a marriage license in Wisconsin in the past week.
Crabb said she would have been inclined not to halt the
marriages if not for a U.S. Supreme Court stay that stopped
same-sex couples from marrying in Utah after a federal judge
struck down that state's ban in December.
About 1,300 gay couples wed in Utah after the federal judge
struck down the ban and before the Supreme Court stay. Since
then, stays have been issued in several cases where judges have
overturned state bans.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, said
his office will appeal Crabb's decision to the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
"By staying this ruling, she has confirmed that Wisconsinís law
regarding same-sex marriage remains in full force and effect,"
John Knight, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who
brought the case on behalf of several same-sex couples, said
they would seek a quick appeal in light of the stay.
With the stay in place in Wisconsin, same-sex marriage is legal
in 19 states plus the District of Columbia. That number would
jump sharply if federal court rulings striking down bans in
several states are upheld on appeal.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jim
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.