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Wis. Gov. Fights Domestic Partnership Registry

Wis. Gov. Fights Domestic Partnership Registry

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending a new domestic partnership registry law that gives same-sex couples some of the rights granted to married couples, but that Walker and others believe violates the state constitution.

The Journal Sentinel reports on the motion from Walker against the law, which Democrats adopted in 2009 when they controlled the legislature. Opponents have challenged the law in Dane County circuit court as a violation of the state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2006 that bans same-sex marriages and, they argue, any substantially similar arrangement. When Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the domestic partnership registries, former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat replaced by Walker in January, hired an attorney to defend the state.

"Governor Walker, in deference to the legal opinion of the attorney general that the domestic partner unconstitutional, does not believe the public interest requires a continued defense of this law," says the brief.

The state supreme court refused to hear a lawsuit filed against the registries in 2009, which led opponents to the district court.

According to the Journal Sentinel, "Even if Walker is allowed to withdraw from the case, the law would still be defended in court because gay rights group Fair Wisconsin intervened in the case last year."

Around 1,500 same-sex couples have signed up for the registries that, according to the Journal Sentinel, "allow same-sex couples to take family and medical leave to care for a seriously ill partner, make end-of-life decisions and have hospital visitation rights. But according to Fair Wisconsin, they still confer only about a quarter of the rights associated with marriage, lacking provisions to allow couples to file joint tax returns or adopt children together."

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