Friday, July 11, 2008

WI: gay couples who travel to California, marry and return could be prosecuted

The Washington Blade website has provided a news story from “PageOneQ” that raises the possibility that same-sex couples from Wisconsin who travel to California to marry and return could be prosecuted under a 1915 law.

Wisconsin statute 765.04(1) reads:
"If any person residing and intending to continue to reside in this state who is disabled or prohibited from contracting marriage under the laws of this state goes into another state or country and there contracts a marriage prohibited or declared void under the laws of this state, such marriage shall be void for all purposes in this state with the same effect as though it had been entered into in this state."

The law also provides a sentence for anyone who enters an illegal marriage with a fine of $10000 and nine months in prison. Putting the two facts together, travel to a state or country (Canada) that recognizes same-sex marriage and returning to Wisconsin could invoke the sentence.

The is a story in the Wisconsin JS Online by Stacy Forster, “Wisconsin gay couples who marry outside state could face penalty,” link here. The "conservative" Wisconsin Family Council is actually baiting the state to enforce the law, and some lawyers in Wisconsin are advising gay couples to take the possibility of prosecution seriously. The PageOneQ link is here.

California's marriage situation is more of an issue than is that of Massachusetts, because California will marry same-sex couples from out of state.

Picture: A WPA logging camp (museum) near Eau Claire, WI (2002).

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