April 25, 2014

JFC approves domestic partnership plan

An effort to allow the state to recognize same-sex partnerships clears a major legislative hurdle.

Members of the Legislature's Finance Committee on Friday approved a budget provision that allows the state to recognize domestic partnerships. Committee Co-Chair Mark Pocan (D-Madison), who is gay, says the move grants basic rights to same sex couples, such as allowing them to visit a partner in the hospital and make end of life decisions.

State Representative Robin Vos (R-Racine) says he supports the ideas behind the proposal, but worries it could result in legal action if some religious groups don't want to violate their beliefs.

The committee did adopt additional language stating domestic partnerships are not similar to marriage and do not violate a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The move comes after the Wisconsin Family Council threatened to challenge the domestic partner registry, if it becomes law.

Lawmakers also moved ahead with the governor's proposal to make domestic partners eligible to receive state health insurance and retirement benefits.

Both measures passed on a 12-4 partisan vote. The full Legislature will still need to approve them. 

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (MP3 1:07)