Legal Status Of Wisconsin's Married Gay Couples In Limbo

One week after ruling Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, a federal judge has halted the issuing of marriage licenses.

Legal Status Of Wisconsin's Married Gay Couples In Limbo
The Stevens Point Journal

The legal status of same-sex couples married in Wisconsin is now uncertain after a federal judge halted the state's issuing of marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the state's 2006 prohibition on same-sex marriages last week, but did not stay her ruling at the time — allowing a number of gay weddings to proceed amid the confusion. (Via WDJT)

She's now put a temporary hold on that ruling while an appeal by the state's Republican attorney general is pending, leaving the legal status of more than 550 now-married same-sex couples in limbo. (Via WCCO)

CNN has Crabb's 14-page decision, where she writes: "After seeing the expressions of joy on the faces of so many newly wedded couples featured ... I find it difficult to impose a stay ... [However] A federal district court is required to follow the guidance provided by the Supreme Court."

Crabb is referring to the situation in Utah, where more than 1,000 gay couples married in December and January after its gay marriage ban was struck down last year. However, the marriages stopped after the Supreme Court stepped in and stayed the ruling pending appeals. (Via KTVX, NBC)

Due to the stays in Wisconsin and Utah, it's unclear what rights same-sex married couples have on issues such as state income taxes, pensions, health insurance and more. 

However, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will honor same-sex marriages in Utah, and although his office has yet to comment on the latest developments in Wisconsin, a landmark Supreme Court ruling last June makes it likely the federal government will honor those marriages too. (Via U.S. Department of Justice, Flickr / Mark Fischer)

Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. It is believed that the issue of state bans on gay marriage will be taken up by the Supreme Court this fall.