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Wisconsin gay couples married in California could face charges when they return

Individuals who go out to California to marry a gay partner could face a criminal charge after they get back.

The gay rights group Fair Wisconsin is warning its supporters about a little-known state law that makes it a crime for Wisconsinites to marry elsewhere, if it's illegal here.

Other states have similar laws, but Wisconsin has the toughest penalties - up to nine months in prison and a $10,000 maximum fine.

It's not certain if prosecutors would press the issue.

Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard says it's hard to imagine any marriage as criminal conduct unless it's meant to defraud somebody.

Still, Fair Wisconsin recently asked 10,000 of its supporters if they were thinking about getting married in California, now that it's legal there.

Two couples said they would and the group warned them about the Wisconsin law.

One wrote back saying "I'd rather prosecuted than persecuted."

In 2006, voters approved a state constitutional amendment requiring that marriage be between a man and a woman.

Julaine Appling of the Wisconsin Family Council says it would be wrong for prosecutors to look the other way.

One of the amendment's authors, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, says we no longer recognize same-sex marriages in the first place so he's not sure how people could be prosecuted.