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For couples challenging Ind., Wis., marriage bans, the fight is about fairness

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
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Garth Wangemann (left) and Roy BadgerAP

Garth Wangemann (left) and Roy Badger

Garth Wangemann had a new health care power of attorney form drawn up before undergoing surgery for lung cancer in 2011. He and his partner, Roy Badger, had older forms, but Wangemann feared they might be out of date.

When Wangemann developed complications that required doctors to put him in a medically induced coma for more than a month, Badger decided to keep him on life support. Wangemann’s father wanted him removed and spoke to an attorney about trying to override Badger’s power of attorney. The issue became moot when Wangemann woke up.

Wangemann, 58, of Milwaukee, said he wasn’t upset that his father wouldn’t have chosen to keep him on life support, but he was hurt that his father still didn’t recognize Badger as his spouse after 37 years.

“Just the fact that my dad had the right to do that, or thought he did, hurt a lot,” Wangemann said.

The couple later told a friend about the conflict, and their story eventually got passed on to the ACLU, which reached out to them earlier this year about joining the lawsuit.

“It was a surprise to us that they were even interested,” said Badger, 57.

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