MADISON (NEWS RELEASE)— Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued the following statement today upon the filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit an emergency motion for temporary stay in the matter of Wolf, et al. v. Walker, et al.
“Nearly two and a half weeks ago, I explained to the federal court in Madison that even though a number of courts throughout the country have nullified state bans on same-sex marriages, those same federal courts, and in some cases appellate courts, following the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court, have stayed those rulings pending appeal. Consistent with those court decisions, and prior to her decision on Friday, I asked Judge Crabb to immediately stay any decision she might issue invalidating Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage. Consistent with my concern for certainty and reliability understanding some actors may choose to take actions based on the decision, I asked for an emergency stay immediately following her decision.
The point of a stay is obvious to most: it preserves the status quo during the appeal process and prevents the introduction of uncertainty, inconsistency, and confusion into Wisconsin’s marriage laws. As I continue to defend Wisconsin’s Constitution and the law remains unsettled, procedures like the stay give reliability to officials’ actions and our citizens’ decisions.
The U.S Supreme Court will almost certainly decide this important issue once and for all during its next term. There is absolutely no reason to allow Wisconsin’s county clerks to decide for themselves, on a county-by-county basis, who may and may not lawfully get married in this state. Nor is there any reason to subject any citizen to the stress and legal uncertainty that will result, as it has in other jurisdictions, if they are permitted to immediately contract marriages pursuant to a district court decision that may soon be reversed on appeal.
It is because of these common-sense and legal process considerations that other federal courts throughout the country have stayed recent decisions striking down state bans on same-sex marriage. The federal court in Madison, however, has issued an order declaring Wisconsin’s ban unconstitutional, while simultaneously postponing until some indefinite future date a decision on my pending request for an immediate stay of any such decision. As a result, some Wisconsin counties have already begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while others appropriately continue to await further action by the federal court.
For these reasons, I have filed an emergency motion with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, seeking an immediate stay of Judge Crabb's ruling. I have now asked Judge Crabb for a stay twice, and she has refused to rule. While many people disagree as to the propriety of same-sex marriage (which is not unusual in a democracy), we should all agree that all those who seek and enjoy marriage in Wisconsin deserve stability, certainty, and finality.”