Same-sex married couples could soon be in legal limbo - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Same-sex married couples could soon be in legal limbo

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Same-sex couples who have already married in Wisconsin could soon find themselves in legal limbo.

While attorneys on both sides of the issue have strong opinions on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, there is a lot of shoulder-shrugging when you ask them about the status of these couples if a stay of U.S. Judge Barbara Crabb's initial order is issued.

Hundreds of same-sex couples are now married in the state.  On Wednesday, Governor Walker's administration finally agreed to let the Office of Vital Records record the marriages.

"Agencies have ministerial duties and this is one of them and when they don't follow and they don't comply with those ministerial duties they're subject to some pretty serious liabilities," said Tamara Packard, a Madison attorney who advocates for LGBT equality.  "And I hope they made the decision in light of that knowledge."

But just because the marriages are recorded, that doesn't mean every state agency will legally recognize them if a stay of Judge Crabb's ruling is issued.

"It is less sure the state of Wisconsin would recognize those marriages, although I think they should and I think the law supports that they should," said Packard.  "I don't know what they're going to do though, sometimes they have to be forced."

"That's the exact situation that we were trying to avoid since day one," said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. "Trying to avoid the confusion, trying to avoid the legal repercussions they may have because of that."

That's why Van Hollen still recommends same-sex couples wait for the issue to be settled once and for all.

"Don't put yourselves in legal limbo land.  Keep your passions in check until we get this clarified a little bit and you can go forward without any potential legal risk," said Van Hollen.

But Packard says that's not necessary, because the federal government will still recognize the marriage and most of these couples have waited long enough.

"It's not a pleasant place to be, in limbo land, no question about it.  But it is so much closer to full equality, full marriage equality today than we were last week at this time," said Packard.
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