Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Friday that he refuses to defend a new law that grants gay and lesbian couples spousal benefits such as hospital visitation, claiming lawmakers went against voters’ decision not to extend such privileges.
Van Hollen believes the state’s new domestic partnership law, which took effect August 3, is unconstitutional. It allows gay and lesbian partners dozens of the same legal protections as married spouses. To date, more than 400 couples have been added to the state registry.
The conservative Wisconsin Family Council asked the state Supreme Court last month to invalidate the law, saying it conflicted with a voter-approved 2006 constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage and any “substantially similar” relationships. The Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will take up the case. If it does, the state would likely have to hire an outside attorney to defend the law.
Gov. James E. Doyle, a Democrat, responded, “The attorney general’s job is to represent the state and defend state law when there is a good-faith defense to be made. His representation should not be based on whether he likes the state law.”
Van Hollen is a registered Republican.