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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 1 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 31
Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds state's domestic partner law Likely to be surpassed by upcoming marriage ruling
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Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds state's domestic partner law Likely to be surpassed by upcoming marriage ruling

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state's 2009 domestic partner law in a ruling on July 31.

About 2,300 couples have signed up to be on the registry over the past five years.

While the decision keeps the state domestic partner registry open, and allows partners to continue to access benefits, it is likely to be surpassed by an upcoming appeals court decision on same-sex marriage.

The suit was brought by Wisconsin Family Action, which alleged that the law violated the state's ban on same-sex marriage and 'any legal status that is substantially similar to marriage.'

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the authors of the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage did not mean to bar legislation granting certain rights to same-sex couples, and neither did voters.

'We see no evidence that voters who approved the Amendment saw it as permitting those rights to be granted only in the kind of scheme Plaintiffs now suggest - that is, in cohabiting domestic relationships that bear no resemblance at all to marriage,' Justice N. Patrick Crooks wrote in his opinion.

Lambda Legal, which intervened in the case on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five defendant couples, said it was pleased with the result, but noted that only marriage could guarantee full equality for same-sex couples.

'We're thrilled that Wisconsin same-sex couples can keep the limited but very important protections that the domestic partnership registry grants them,' said Lambda Legal attorney Christopher Clark.

'The statute is clearly constitutional, and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin agreed with us. Gay and lesbian couples in Wisconsin no longer have to fear that the protections they have will be taken away by unnecessary anti-gay legal action.

'We also look forward to the day - fast approaching - when Wisconsin will join its neighbors to the south and west and the growing number of states across the country where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, rendering limited domestic partnership registry unnecessary. Wisconsin same-sex couples are entitled to the full range of legal protections that only marriage provides,' Clark added.

In June a federal district judge ruled that Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals plans to hear arguments in the state's appeal on August 26.

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