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Wisconsin court: State’s Domestic Partner Registry is constitutional

Monday, December 24, 2012
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The Wisconsin Court of Appeals on Friday upheld as constitutional the state’s Domestic Partner Registry, affirming a lower court decision that the law does not violate the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The court said “…it would ‘take pages’ to list the rights and obligations that go with marriages but not domestic partnerships … It is not necessary to list that many here to demonstrate that … the rights and obligations of marriage are not substantially similar to the rights and obligations of domestic partnerships.”

“The court has affirmed what we have maintained all along – it is ridiculous to suggest that a domestic partnership law could be considered anything closely resembling a marriage for purposes of state law,” said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office.

“In fact, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments as ‘nonsense.’ We fought off this ugly attack against the rights and protections currently available to same-sex couples and their families in Wisconsin – a sweet holiday present to loving couples and families.”

In June 2009, Wisconsin Governor 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 a 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 is a violation of Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.

Shortly thereafter, Lambda Legal successfully moved to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples.

“We are pleased that the Court upheld the limited protections provided by domestic partnerships because they are essential in allowing committed same-sex couples to care for each other in times of need,” said Katie Belanger, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin.

“Domestic partnerships marked our state’s first step toward full equality in nearly 30 years. This decision will ensure that we can continue advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Wisconsinites in the years ahead,” said Belanger.

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