[A]n obscure state law ... makes it a crime for Wisconsin residents to enter into marriage in another state if the marriage would be prohibited here. The law imposes a penalty for those who enter into a marriage that's prohibited or declared void in Wisconsin of up to $10,000 and nine months in prison....Would anyone who supports the ban on gay marriage want this criminal statute enforced? Actually, yes:
[The gay rights advocacy group Fair Wisconsin] sent an e-mail to about 10,000 supporters to see if anyone was making plans to go to California to get married. It heard back from two, and followed up to warn them about the law, said Glenn Carlson, executive director of Fair Wisconsin.
"We're telling people, especially if you live outside of Dane County, to be careful," Carlson said. After receiving the warning, one person wrote back that "I'd rather be prosecuted than persecuted."
Julaine Appling, chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Family Council, said the statutes are clear and the law should be enforced.Oh, for crying out loud. It's one thing to have the gay marriage ban in the state and, based on that, for Wisconsin not to recognize the California-married gay couple as in fact married when they return to the state. It's quite another to criminally prosecute them!
"If it were challenged and the courts decided to basically wink at it, and refused to enforce the law, we have a problem," she said, adding that the constitutional amendment clarified that no marriage other than between a man and woman is legal.
I don't think Wisconsin prosecutors would waste public money and expose the gay marriage ban to such bad publicity, but the mere threat of prosecution is oppressive.