A court in Wisconsin on Thursday turned back a challenge to the Madison school districts policy of offering domestic-partner benefits to the partners of gay employees. The ruling by the state appeals court upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the district. The districts domestic-partnership plan took effect in June 1998, and 74 of the 4,100 district employees signed up for it. The suit was filed by three district residents who argued that the benefits could not be extended to domestic partners. The three said they would appeal to the state supreme court. The suit was financed in part by the Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz., a conservative religious organization. We hope that the decision puts this matter behind us, district spokesman Ken Syke said.