Wisconsin Supreme Court Sends Domestic Partnership Lawsuit Back to Court of Appeals

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September 19, 2012

(Madison, Wisconsin)—Yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied a request by the Court of Appeals asking the high court to decide the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statewide domestic partnership registry that provides important legal protections for same-sex couples.

In July 2012 the Court of Appeals certified the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court asking that the high court decide the case because of the statewide importance of the issue. The Supreme Court refused the request and the matter will now be decided by the Court of Appeals.

“This isn’t a surprise and we’ll defend the domestic partnership law in any court. The law is clear—the domestic partnership law does not violate the Wisconsin constitution,” said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office based in Chicago. “The decision upholding the registry in 2011 is correct and we expect that the Court of Appeals will agree.”

“Fair Wisconsin is proud to continue our work defending these critical protections for caring and committed same-sex couples,” said Katie Belanger, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin. “Domestic partnerships marked our state’s first step toward full equality in nearly 30 years and we are confident that our efforts will continue to be successful as the case continues to work its way through the legal system.”

In June 2009, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed domestic partnerships into law, granting limited but important legal protections to same-sex couples, including hospital visitation and the ability to take a family medical leave to care for a sick or injured partner. Wisconsin Family Action, an antigay group, brought a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court arguing that the domestic partnership law is a violation of Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Shortly thereafter, Lambda Legal successfully moved to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples.

On June 20, 2011, Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Daniel R. Moeser upheld the registry as constitutional writing, “Ultimately, it is clear that Chapter 770 does not violate the Marriage Amendment because it does not create a legal status for domestic partners that is identical or substantially similar to that of marriage. The state does not recognize domestic partnership in a way that even remotely resembles how the state recognizes marriage. Moreover, domestic partners’ have far fewer legal rights, duties, and liabilities in comparison to the legal rights, duties, and liabilities of spouses.”

For more information on this case, Appling v. Doyle, visit Lambda Legal’s case page at http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/appling-v-doyle.html.


Contact Info

Lambda Legal Contact: Lisa Hardaway Cell: 973-902-9298; Email: [email protected]

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
Fair Wisconsin, one of the state’s most respected advocacy groups, has a proud history in education, grassroots organizing, outreach, and political action in the cause of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. With a statewide board of directors and a full-time staff, Fair Wisconsin is the only organization to represent the Badger state in the Equality Federation, the national alliance of state-based LGBT advocacy organizations. To learn more, visit www.fairwisconsin.com.