November 25, 2014

Supreme Court asked to rule on domestic partnership law

A state Appeals Court is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to determine whether the state’s domestic partnership registry is Constitutional. The Fourth District Court of Appeals in Madison on Thursday certified the case to the State Supreme Court, asking justices to decide if the law violates a 2006 state Constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage or any similar arrangement.

The Appeals Court says a decision in the case will clarify the meaning of the marriage amendment, and notes it’s appropriate for the Supreme Court to consider the case because of the statewide significance of the lawsuit.

The domestic partnership registry was enacted in 2009 under former Governor Jim Doyle. It grants same-sex couples certain legal rights, such as the right to visit each other in hospitals, make end-of-life decisions, and inherit property.

Wisconsin Family Action, a group that advocated for the gay marriage ban, filed a lawsuit challenging the creation of the registry. The group argues the law creates a status similar to marriage, so it is not legal under the ban. However, a Dane County Circuit Court judge ruled in June of last year that the registry did not require the state to recognize domestic partnership in “a way that even remotely resembles how the state recognizes marriage.”

Whether the state Supreme Court will agree to hear the case remains unknown.