Stay in same-sex marriage decision leaves gray area for recently wed couples

MGN Online
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- It's a gray area in same-sex marriage.

Right now four democratic members of Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation are asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to recognize the marriages of gay couples who recently wed in Wisconsin.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb halted weddings late Friday while attorney general J.B. Van Hollen appeals her decision to strike down Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional.

The four democratic members want the marriages to be recognized so same-sex couples can file their federal taxes jointly. It would allow spouses of federal workers and military personnel to qualify for benefits.

Local attorney Harry Hertel says a gray area exists right now for the more than 500 same-sex couples that wed after Judge Crabb’s decision. The stay issued Friday isn't changing the minds of one local couple that was married less than a week ago.

“It was going in the right direction. It's sad that we have to go through another whole process,” Billy Smith of Chippewa Falls said.

Smith says he was disappointed after he found out that a stay was issued Friday while the courts decide whether same-sex marriages will be legal in the State of Wisconsin

Smith who married his husband Roy last Wednesday in Chippewa County says he wasn't surprised to hear that a stay was issued on same-sex marriages, but the decision left him with a lot of questions.

“I don't think they can take our marriage away from us,” Smith said.

Local attorney Harry Hertel says right now a gray area exists for couples who received marriage licenses last week.

“There are certainly some individuals that would say they are not valid and if they are in a position where they have standing they could file a lawsuit,” Hertel explained.

“This is ultimately going to end up in the Federal Supreme Court,” U.S Representative Ron Kind said.

U.S. Representative Ron Kind was part of a group of four democrats that sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to federally recognize same-sex marriages that have been performed since June 6th.

Kind says he understands why Judge Crabb issued a stay on marriages until a higher court rules on the issue.

For local couple Billy Smith and Roy Calkins a stay doesn’t change their feelings about their marriage, their only hope is more same-sex couples will receive the right to marry in the future.

“I wish they would let the rest of the gay community experience what we are experiencing,” Smith added.

WEAU did reach out to Republican Representative Sean Duffy for his reaction to the recent stay, but have not heard back.

Attorney Harry Hertel said depending on how far the law goes in the appellate courts a decision could take up to a few years to reach.

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