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Gay Groups Defend Wi. Domestic Partner Law


Lambda Legal is seeking to intervene on behalf of Fair Wisconsin in a lawsuit attempting to end newly enacted domestic-partnership protections for same-sex couples in the state.

"There are almost 15,000 same-sex couples and their families living in Wisconsin who need the basic protections provided by domestic partnerships. The law is far from marriage equality, but it helps couples in times of illness and crisis," said Lambda Legal senior staff attorney Christopher Clark, according to a press release from the gay rights organization.

In June, Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle signed into law a provision allowing same-sex couples to register as domestic partners. Registering provides couples with certain legal protections such as the right to visit each other in the hospital, take medical leave to care for an ill partner, and inherit assets when a partner dies.

The following month, antigay group Wisconsin Family Action, in partnership with the Alliance Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit claiming that the registry violates the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, which was approved by voters in 2006.

"To suggest that these few protections granted to same-sex couples and their families resemble the much-revered status of marriage is preposterous. The domestic-partnership law and the constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marriage are not in conflict with each other," said Clark.

Both sides are currently awaiting a decision by the Wisconsin supreme court to determine whether the case will be heard directly by the court or if it will first receive a trial date in the circuit court in order to develop a fuller factual record.

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