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Wisconsin judge rules domestic partner registry is constitutional

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
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Wisconsin Domestic Partners Tamara Packard (left) and Renee Herber on August 3, 2009.

A judge in Wisconsin on Monday ruled that domestic partnerships are not substantially similar to marriages, and that such partnerships do not violate the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Dane County Judge Daniel Moeser on Monday threw out a challenge to the state’s domestic partnership law and ruled the law constitutional.

Moeser wrote in his decision that the state’s domestic partnership law “does not violate the Marriage Amendment because it does not create a legal status for domestic partners that is identical or substantially similar to that of marriage. The state does not recognize domestic partnership in a way that even remotely resembles how the state recognizes marriage.”

“Moreover, domestic partners have far fewer legal rights, duties, and liabilities in comparison to the legal rights, duties, and liabilities of spouses.”

Wisconsin’s domestic partnerships allow same-sex couples to visit each other in hospitals, make end-of-life decisions, and inherit each other’s property. The partnerships do not guarantee any ability to share benefits, and same-sex couples still don’t have the right to adopt.

The registry was created in 2009 under Democratic Governor Jim Doyle.

Wisconsin Family Action, a conservative advocacy group that filed the court challenge, said it would not give up the fight.

“We will appeal this decision because this domestic partnership scheme is precisely the type of marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action.

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