Final ruling on same-sex marriage in Wisconsin: Legal experts say it could take 2 years

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Same-sex marriage licenses are being granted in several Wisconsin counties. This, after a federal judge on Friday, June 6th struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage. Legal experts caution it could take as long as two years before there's a final ruling on gay marriage in Wisconsin.

The current issue is whether courts would grant a stay on Judge Barbara Crabb's decision to eliminate Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban -- and that's just one of many decisions still to come.

The Attorney General's Office is appealing Friday's decision.

Whenever the appellate court ruling comes down, the loser will almost certainly appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske says the legitimacy of same-sex marriages in Wisconsin will most likely be decided in court -- and the decision won't come quickly.

"Generally, the validity of marriages are by a state court system and so it probably would be a circuit court judge, then a court of appeals, and then ultimately, the Wisconsin Supreme Court. That`s generally where the validity of marriages are determined," Geske said.

That would happen against the backdrop of a separate court battle -- the argument over whether Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage violates the United States Constitution.

Judge Crabb ruled on Friday that it does.

The state responded by filing for an emergency stay -- which would keep the ruling from taking effect.

Long-term, the state is appealing to a federal appellate court with the final destination most likely being Washington.

"It`s obviously going to appealed to the United States Supreme Court, unless the court has already done something, and that`s gonna take substantially more time so we`re looking at more than a year or two years before this issue is finally resolved," Geske said.

For now, some county officials are waiting for a more permanent decision, while others are issuing marriage licenses.

"For our part, whatever comes up, I will work as hard as possible to both protect the marriages that occurred over the last couple of days and any in the next couple of days and ensure there are no worries going forward," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.

"Their status is a little bit in limbo until all this gets settled," Geske said.

In Judge Crabb's decision to deny the state's request for a stay, she says she understands the concerns over some counties issuing marriage licenses.

She says if the state believes some of its counties are violating Wisconsin law, that is an issue "beyond the scope of this case."

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