Marathon County is not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a federal judge’s …

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WAUSAU — When Melissa Enders heard Friday that a federal judge had struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, she immediately updated her Facebook status: “I’m getting married.”


When she called Oneida County Clerk Mary Bartelt Monday morning, however, she learned she would have to wait just a little while longer to marry her partner of more than three years with whom she is raising a special-needs child she adopted.


“She (the clerk) told me she will not hold me back, but wants to do it the right way, and I completely understand,” Enders of Rhinelander said. “We want our paperwork to say ‘Mrs. and Mrs.,’ not ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ But as soon as possible, we’re getting married.”


That day may come soon. Bartelt called Enders back Monday afternoon to let her know that the county had changed course and would offer same-sex marriage licenses.


When it did, Oneida joined Lincoln and 41 other counties that had decided Monday to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Marathon County was among 27 that were refusing to issue licenses to gay couples, and two counties had not determined if they would approve gay-marriage license requests, according to a Gannett Wisconsin Media survey of county clerks.


Hundreds of same-sex couples married over the weekend in Madison and Milwaukee, where office hours were extended. In Lincoln County, County Clerk Chris Marlowe said no couples had yet sought licenses as of Monday afternoon.


Marathon County is waiting to issue licenses until state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s appeal of Friday’s ruling is resolved or it receives direction from the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, County Clerk Nan Kottke said Monday.


The disparity among counties across the state has left gay couples confused about what their rights are and where they are being recognized.


Shannon Thomas, for example, heard something about gay marriage mentioned as she listened to news on her car radio after the ban was overturned Friday, but figured it was probably related to President Barack Obama’s recent declaration of June as LGBT month. When she got home, she was shocked to find her phone blowing up with messages.


“Everyone in my gay community was shocked,” said Thomas, of Wausau, who is organizing the city’s second annual March for Equality later this month. “I’m not overly upset there’s a delay (in Marathon County), I know there’s a process. We’re happy that it happened and Wisconsin is moving forward.”


Missy Kelly of Rothschild, who plans to marry her partner this fall, also was excited to hear the ban had been lifted, but was upset to learn some counties, including her own, were not yet participating.


“It’s extremely disappointing that you make such a huge step forward and then the little things hold us back,” Kelly said.


It’s important for Kelly and her partner to wait until they can get married in their home state and home city, she said.


For Enders and her partner, Kristine Anderson, who have been together for three and a half years, being able to marry would mean they would both be named the legal parents of Jenna-May Enders, a 9-year-old girl with special needs who Enders adopted four years ago.


“My partner really wants to share my daughter’s last name,” Enders said.


The couple had considered marrying in Minnesota, but worried they could face fines and even prison time when they returned home to Rhinelander.


“We didn’t want to lose my daughter,” Enders said. “We put her first.”

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