June 13, 2014 / 11:05 AM / 4 years ago

Federal judge could give green light to gay marriage in Wisconsin

MADISON Wis. (Reuters) - A federal judge could rule on Friday on whether gay marriages may be officiated in Wisconsin following her ruling last week declaring the state’s ban on same-sex weddings unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb heard arguments from lawyers on Friday on how her ruling should be applied and whether it should be temporarily halted pending appeals.

Crabb took the questions under advisement and told lawyers she “probably” would rule on the case on Friday.

County clerks around Wisconsin have issued hundreds of marriage licenses to same-sex couples since Crabb ruled last Friday that the state ban adopted in 2006 violated the U.S. Constitution.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, has asked Crabb to stay her decision pending appeal and has said that in the meantime, marriage licenses should not have been issued and county clerks who approved them could be prosecuted.

Crabb in her ruling last Friday did not say whether county clerks were allowed to issue marriage licenses or prohibited until further rulings, leaving it up to county clerks throughout the state to decide whether to issue licenses or not.

According to Fair Wisconsin, an LGBT advocacy organization, 51 of the state’s 72 county clerks have issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples since the ruling. A tally by Reuters found that more than 500 gay couples have applied for or have been granted a marriage license.

Van Hollen also has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to halt gay marriages in Wisconsin until appeals are concluded.

Not including Wisconsin, same-sex marriage is now 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

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