WI Domestic Partnerships

Posted by – December 22, 2012

In the midst of all this bad news – the NRA’s ongoing thick-headedness, Iowa’s full speed reversal into 1953 – there is some good news out of the state of Wisconsin: namely, that Wisconsin’s domestic partnership registry has been upheld as constitutional by a state appeals court.

This is especially good news as Wisconsin has a superDOMA in place, which not only bans same sex marriage but bans anything like marriage for same sex couples.

Here’s the basic gist:

Democratic lawmakers created the registry in 2009. Same-sex couples who join it are afforded a host of legal rights, including the right to visit each other in hospitals and make end-of-life decisions for one another. About 1,800 couples were on the registry at the end of 2011, according to the latest data from the state Department of Health Services.

Members of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action filed a lawsuit in 2010 alleging the registry bestowed a legal status substantially similar to marriage to same-sex couples. The group argued that violates the Wisconsin Constitution’s ban on gay marriage.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the registry, declaring it was clearly unconstitutional. Former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, appointed private attorneys to defend it, but Republican Gov. Scott Walker fired them after he took office in 2011 because he, too, believed the registry was unconstitutional.

Fair Wisconsin, the state’s largest gay rights group, stepped into the case to defend the registry. Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser ruled last summer that the registry was constitutional, finding it conveys a status that’s not identical or substantially similar to marriage.

Which means, in a nutshell, that right now is a damn good time to donate to Fair Wisconsin and thank them for their efforts on behalf of some very basic rights of same sex couples.

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