Milwaukee County Clerk says Wisconsin is treating same-sex couples unfairly

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee County Clerk is saying the state isn't treating same-sex couples fairly -- and he wants something done about it.

At issue is the marriage license application form couples must fill out before the wedding, as well as the state marriage certificate.

For most couples, applying for a marriage license is kind of a big moment. But according to the Milwaukee County Clerk, recently, it's been a source of distress for some.

"I've actually had people walk out of the office," said Milwaukee County Clerk, Joseph Czarnezki.

At issue? Two simple words, but ones that carry a hefty significance.

"These are forms from the state of Wisconsin, and we have had complaints from same sex couples that these forms are not gender neutral they say bride and groom," said Czarnezki.

Czarnezki says 2 to 3 same sex couples apply for marriage licenses in his office on a typical day -- and nearly all of them have commented on the form's wording.

"They've asked if they could cross it out, and the state has said well they can cross it out on the application, but their marriage certificate which is the official document that shows that you are married they said that cannot be modified -- so that must say bride and groom," said Czarnezki.

Czarnezki's now calling on the state to modify the forms, and get them issued to county clerks.

"A lot of people have waited a long time for their relationships to be recognized with a legal marriage. I think the least we can do is treat same sex couples with the same respect we treat opposite sex couples, and make these forms gender neutral," Czarnezki said.

FOX6 News reached out the the state's Department of Health Services which handles the forms. In a statement, a spokeswoman says:

"The Department of Health Services State Vital Records Office is revising its forms and instructions per the guidance from the Department of Justice. We will be providing those forms and instructions as soon as they are approved through our internal review process."

As for how he'd like to see a new form worded, the Milwaukee County Clerk suggests something like applicant A and B, or spouse one, and spouse two.

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