October 25, 2014

Judge upholds domestic partnership registry

A Dane County judge has ruled Wisconsin’s domestic partnership registry is constitutional and does not create a union similar to marriage.

The registry, which grants just a fraction of the rights afforded to married couples, was pushed in the 2009 state budget by former Governor Jim Doyle. It was challenged by Wisconsin Family Action, which argued the registry violates the state’s Constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

Dane County Judge Daniel Moeser on Monday rejected that argument, ruling that the state is not recognizing domestic partnerships in a way that “even remotely resembles how the state recognizes marriage.”

The domestic partnership registry allows same-sex couples to apply for benefits at county clerk’s offices, granting them rights such as hospital visitations and control over end-of-life decisions.

Wisconsin Family Action had initially asked the state Supreme Court to rule directly on the challenge, but Justices said the case must start at the circuit court level and then go through the appellate process. As a result, an appeal of the ruling is likely.