Appeals court upholds Wisconsin's domestic partnership law

Fri. December 21, 2012 11:27 AM by Wisconsin Gazette

Madison, WI - The Wisconsin Court of Appeals on Dec. 21 upheld as constitutional the state's domestic partnership law, according to Lambda Legal.

In affirming a lower court decision that the law does not violate the state's constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, the court stated: "... 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."

Responding, Christopher Clark, a senior attorney with Lambda Legal, said, "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. 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."

The partnership law was signed in 2009 by then-Gov. Jim Doyle to provide some 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, according to Lambda.

The anti-gay Wisconsin Family Action challenged the registry in Dane County Circuit Court, alleging that the law violated Wisconsin's constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.

Lambda Legal filed to intervene on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples.

In a news release after learning of the appeals court decision, Katie Belanger of Fair Wisconsin stated, "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.

"This is an exciting day for 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."

Article provided in partnership with Wisconsin Gazette.