Gay Marriages Are Halted in Wisconsin, But Just for Now, Hopefully

Marriage equality took a step backwards in Wisconsin Friday, after U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb placed a stay on her previous ruling, effectively halting same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, at least for the time being. The move isn't anything too new — only a week after Arkansas's gay marriage ban was struck down, the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed its ruling while the case made its way through appeals. Back in January, the same thing happened in Utah. There's just no easy step forward, it seems.

Last week, Judge Crabb ruled that Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, leading hundreds of couples to excitedly rush to tie the knot — 60 of 72 Wisconsin counties issued marriage licenses to over 500 happy newlyweds, according to the AP. But the judge's judgment was in some ways vague, especially regarding exactly when the state could begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Some clerks were therefore wary of doing anything before the judge issued an injunction — the thing telling officials what they were allowed to do — and so, almost immediately, state officials sent Judge Crabb a request for clarification. Instead of responding, though, the judge scheduled a hearing for the following Monday, effectively allowing LGBT couples to continue getting married over the weekend.

Republican Attorney General J.B Van Hollen, apparently not happy with the judge's delaying tactics, chose to ask a federal appeals court panel in Chicago to issue a stay instead — in the end, Crabb was forced to give in to the pressure, and release both an injunction and a stay. But she wasn't happy about it. In her order Friday, she wrote:

“After seeing the expressions of joy on the faces of so many newly wedded couples featured in media reports, I find it difficult to impose a stay on the event that is responsible for eliciting that emotion, even if the stay is only temporary ... Same-sex couples have waited many years to receive equal treatment under the law, so it is understandable that they do not want to wait any longer. However, a federal district court is required to follow the guidance provided by the Supreme Court.”
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images News/Getty Images

While the setback must be crushing for the state's LGBT community, if the rest of the country is anything to go by, the disappointment will only be temporary. A month ago, a federal judge struck down Idaho’s gay marriage ban, and just over three weeks ago, a federal judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban in Oregon. It shouldn't be too long before Wisconsin joins the other 19 states in finally — and permanently— giving its residents marriage equality.