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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 6 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 36
Showdown looms over WI domestic partnerships - Opponents say law signed in 2009 is too similar to marriage
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Showdown looms over WI domestic partnerships - Opponents say law signed in 2009 is too similar to marriage

Wisconsin's law allowing domestic partnerships is being challenged in court by opponents, who say it is unconstitutional.

In June 2009, then-Gov. Jim Doyle signed domestic partnerships into law, granting limited but important legal protections to same-sex couples, including hospital visitation and the ability to take family medical leave to care for a sick or injured partner. Wisconsin Family Action, an anti-Gay group, brought a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court arguing that the domestic partnership law violates Wisconsin's 2006 constitutional amendment barring marriage for same-sex couples and any legal status that is 'substantially similar' to marriage. Shortly thereafter, Lambda Legal successfully moved to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples. In December 2012, the Court of Appeals declared the domestic partnership was constitutional. Shortly thereafter, Wisconsin Family Action appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Lambda Legal this week filed a brief on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, asking the court to uphold the law. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for October 23rd.

'The domestic partnership law in Wisconsin is, without question, constitutional,' said Christopher Clark, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal. 'The limited protections provided by domestic partnerships are a far cry from the significant rights, benefits, and responsibilities associated with marriage. To suggest that that the two types of relationships are impermissibly similar is an anti-Gay stretch of the imagination.'

'Wisconsin's same-sex couples need the domestic partnership registry - it provides important protections in a state that has banned same-sex couples from having the freedom to marry,' said Katie Belanger, president and CEO of Fair Wisconsin. 'The Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiffs' arguments as 'nonsense,' and that hasn't changed.'

For more information on this case, Appling v. Doyle, visit Lambda Legal's case page at http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/appling-v-doyle.html. - Submitted by Lambda Legal

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