- Associated Press - Sunday, June 8, 2014
Hundreds of couples rush to marry in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Dozens of gay couples married Saturday at courthouses in Milwaukee and Madison, taking advantage of what most believed would be a small window in which to get hitched before a judge’s decision overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban was put on hold.

The decision was announced Friday afternoon just as the party was getting started at PrideFest, an annual gay celebration that draws thousands of people to Milwaukee’s festival grounds on Lake Michigan.

Many couples who married Saturday said the judge’s decision had caught them by surprise, and they hadn’t wanted to break Friday night plans. Others needed time to assemble the documents required for a marriage license. Couples began lining up outside the Milwaukee County courthouse at 6 a.m., three hours before it opened.

Craig Cook and Marshall Draper arrived about 8:30 a.m. and found nearly two dozen couples in line ahead of them. Cook, 43, said he and others had hoped U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb would make a decision in time for PrideFest. He and Draper attended the festival Friday night and planned to return Saturday after being married by a Unitarian minister outside the courthouse.

“Had this been legal, we probably would have done this 20 years ago,” Cook said. He said he and Draper likely will have a reception in a few weeks, but “this was as formal a wedding as I’ve ever wanted.”

Gay rights activists have won 15 consecutive lower court cases since a landmark Supreme Court ruling last summer, but in states such as Arkansas, couples had only a few days in which to marry before judges’ decisions were appealed.

Abby Collier said she planned to marry her partner, Beth Collier, several years ago in her native California, but ceremonies were halted the day before. She was surprised Friday by the sense of urgency that experience gave her.

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Wisconsin mosquito season off to an annoying start

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Mosquito season is off to an annoying start in northern Wisconsin, where the problem has been so bad that one canoeing company has been turning away customers rather than sending them out on a bug-infested river.

Fortunately, though, the rest of the summer might not be so bad. A Madison entomologist says early indications suggest this season may end up being no worse than usual, and that standard precautions might be enough to keep the pesky critters away.

Some hardware stores up north have been having trouble keeping bug repellent on the shelves, and some residents say they can’t remember a summer with such abundant swarms.

PJ Liesch, who studies insects at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was in northern Wisconsin over Memorial Day weekend. That Friday and Saturday were pleasantly mosquito-free, but hordes of the blood-sucking pests appeared as if out of nowhere that Sunday, he said.

“It was like someone flipped the switch,” Liesch said. “They all seemed to come out at the same time.”

Their sudden appearance might lead people to fear that this season will be unusually bad, but conditions point to a generally average mosquito season, Liesch said.

That’s good news to Ed Hammer, who runs Wisconsin River Outfitters in Lake Tomahawk. For the last week or so, the swarms have been so thick that he turned away at least half a dozen customers who wanted to paddle down the Wisconsin River.

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2 rescued after boat takes on water off Racine

RACINE, Wis. (AP) - Rescuers have brought a stranded father and son safely back to shore after their fishing boat filled with water on Lake Michigan off Racine.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office says its water patrol responded to a distress call around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, about four miles off shore. The caller told dispatchers the boat was taking on water and the engine wouldn’t shift into gear.

The water patrol towed the 18-foot boat back to a boat launch where the operator, a 51-year-old Racine man and his 18-year-old son were able to pull it out of the water.

The owner was ticketed for an equipment violation after authorities determined a water intake was not connected to the engine properly, causing water to flood the boat instead of cooling the engine.

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Democrats say GOP senator lives outside district

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democrats are accusing GOP state Sen. Frank Lasee of living outside his northwestern Wisconsin district and are seeking to keep him off the ballot.

The party filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Board last week alleging that the senator uses a De Pere apartment as his primary address but lives with his wife and kids in Racine, in southeastern Wisconsin. The complaint says his declaration of candidacy and nomination papers should therefore be declared invalid.

“I think that the law is really clear on this, that he needs to have a legal residence where he claims he is,” Democratic Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said Friday.

Lasee issued a statement calling the complaint “frivolous” and saying it’s “designed to bully my family and take voters’ attention away from the issues that are most important to them.”

The senator said he lives near De Pere in the town of Ledgeview, which is in his district, and that his children go public schools in his district.

Government Accountability Board staff are slated to review the complaint over the next few days, spokesman Reid Magney said. The board will then make a decision on the complaint when it meets June 10.

Lasee has represented the First Senate District - which includes Door, Kewaunee, and Calumet Counties - since 2011. He’s being challenged by Ashwaubenon special education teacher and veteran Dean DeBroux, who lives in De Pere.

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