- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014
Plaintiffs delighted by Wisconsin marriage ruling

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Couples who are part of a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban are reacting joyfully to a judge’s order striking down the ban.

Garth Wangemann, 58, and Roy Badger, 56, got the news Friday afternoon in Milwaukee, where they were among people gathering for the opening of PrideFest. Wangemann was to give a speech about the lawsuit at the festival, and says he’s happy he’ll have to rewrite it.

Wangemann and Badger say they’re eager to get married but weren’t planning to rush to the county courthouse. They say they’re just going to celebrate until confusion is cleared up over how soon marriages can begin.

Wangemann says they have hoped for a day when all young people can take for granted that they can marry the person they love.

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Wisconsin to seek order halting gay marriages

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he will seek an emergency federal court order to stop gay marriages after a judge struck down the state’s ban.

Clerks in Madison and Milwaukee began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples late Friday after a federal judge declared the gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

There was confusion over whether the federal judge’s order also stopped enforcement of current law, given that she gave both sides more time to describe exactly what they wanted her to block in the law.

Van Hollen says in light of clerks going ahead with marriages, he will file emergency motions in federal courts to put Friday’s order on hold.

Van Hollen did not say when he would ask for the emergency order.

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Wisconsin Democrats praise gay marriage ruling

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Democrats are praising a federal judge’s decision to overturn the state’s gay marriage ban.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling deems the state’s 2006 ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke called the ruling a victory for fairness and equality.

Congressman Mark Pocan says the ruling will end to poor treatment of gay couples.

Van Hollen said the ruling was a setback and he would appeal. Gov. Scott Walker hasn’t issued a statement on the ruling.

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Billionaire pleads guilty to sexual assault charge

RACINE, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin billionaire pleaded guilty Friday to repeatedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl, a charge that prosecutors ended up downgrading from a felony to a misdemeanor after they said the victim and her family repeatedly refused to cooperate.

Samuel “Curt” Johnson III, whose family has run home-products giant SC Johnson for five generations, was convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to four months in jail, short of the one-year maximum. He was also fined $6,000.

In considering the sentence, Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz acknowledged that neither the girl nor her mother wanted a case brought against Johnson. Authorities only became aware of the allegations after the 59-year-old sought counseling at a clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he made an undisclosed comment that triggered a mandatory report.

The girl initially told Racine County investigators that Johnson had inappropriate sexual contact with her 15 to 20 times, starting the summer after she finished sixth grade. She said Johnson exposed himself, fondled her under her clothes and kissed her breasts and elsewhere.

When the girl’s mother confronted Johnson he denied the allegations, the criminal complaint said. Later the mother repeated the allegations and, after he confirmed that he wasn’t being recorded, he acknowledged fondling the girl and apologized for hurting her, the complaint said.

The girl and mother would have been the state’s two strongest witnesses. But Assistant District Attorney Robert Repischak said they refused to cooperate from the outset, leaving him a flimsy case.

In absence of their cooperation, Repischak tried to gain access to Johnson’s counseling reports, hoping that details of whatever triggered the counselor’s report might have been incriminating enough. But the clinic also fought requests to cooperate, he said.

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