Walworth County to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ELKHORN--Walworth County will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday morning, County Clerk Kim Bushey said.

“It's not a matter of changing my mind. It was a matter of gathering information so we could make a proper decision,” Bushey said.

Four same-sex couples have asked the clerk's office for marriage licenses since U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on Friday overturned a Wisconsin constitutional ban. Bushey said her office contacted those couples Wednesday to let them know licenses would be available to them Thursday morning.

Bushey said that since Monday she has repeatedly asked for legal guidance from the Wisconsin Vital Records Office and the state Attorney General's Office.

“We did not receive a lot of extra guidance,” she said.

“I've been keeping a list of decision points of things that were important in this process, and it was a difficult decision. It was about following the law, and I think there's a lot of confusion about judge Crabb's decision,” Bushey said.

Bushey said she decided Wednesday to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it was becoming unfair to Walworth County residents while clerks in many other counties were issuing licenses.

“It starts to become punitive to our own citizens,” Bushey said.

The Walworth County Corporation Counsel's Office issued a four-page decision on the issue, Bushey said.

“We were not the first county to make this decision,” Bushey said. “I think it would be diifficult on Monday morning to come in and make that decision. I don't know how you could come through the door and make that decision. It's a bit of a legal maze. It's about the law.

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