Outagamie Co. to give same-sex couples full refunds for marriage license fees

By Heather Sawaski, Local 5 News

Published 06/16 2014 05:28PM

Updated 06/16 2014 06:43PM

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) - After an uproar from same-sex couples in Outagamie County, those who applied for marriage licenses last week, but were not wed, will be getting full refunds.

The Outagamie County Clerk did not waive the five-day waiting period for marriage licenses, that meant the 26 same-sex couples who applied had to wait to get married. Since a stay was issued, those couples are now out of luck, but not out the money they paid for a license.

Dozens gathered on the courthouse steps Monday morning. They were asking that same-sex couples get full refunds on the $100 marriage license fee after Friday's federal court ruling now prevents them from getting married.

"Because the county should not profit on those marriage licenses that they paid for that will never be granted," explained Kathy Flores of Appleton.

The county clerk's office originally said the couple's would only be refunded the state's portion of the fee, which is $55, because the county did provide some services and should be compensated.

"We wanted to fashion a solution that was cost neutral," said Tom Nelson, Outagamie County Executive.

Hours later, Nelson announced his office will pay the county's portion of the license fee, which works about to about $1,200 total.

"So from the County Executive's budget," he explained. "We just won't spend those dollars. Instead we'll be dedicating those dollars to pay for refunds for those applications."

While protestors are satisfied with the decision, they said it's just a small step in the right direction.

"At least it's a statement that the county is trying to make at least part of this a better situation," commented Rev. Roger Bertschausen, with Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

"However wonderful it is that they're issuing those refunds," said Artie Alan, who applied for a marriage license with is partner. "Refunds are a very, very small consolation prize to me being able to spend the rest of my life with the man I love and until I have that, I'm not going to stop."

County officials said couples can forgo a refund and keep their applications on file, then be issued a license without further cost if the courts decide same-sex marriages can continue.

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