Lambda Legal seeks to intervene on behalf of Fair Wisconsin to counter an attack on domestic partner protections.
Lambda Legal seeks to intervene in a case on behalf of Fair Wisconsin, the LGBT pro-equality group that championed new domestic partnership protections enacted in the state earlier this year.
In June, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed domestic partnerships into law, granting limited but vital legal protections to same-sex couples. The new law provides important health care protections, including hospital visitation and the ability to take family medical leave to care for a partner.
In retaliation, the antigay group Wisconsin Family Action filed suit against the state in Appling v. Doyle, claiming that the new law violates a previous antigay amendment that blocked marriage equality there and barred recognition of any legal status “substantially similar” to marriage. Lambda Legal disagrees, arguing that the marriage amendment was never intended to prevent the legislature from providing basic domestic partnership protections.
Lambda Legal Senior Staff Attorney Christopher Clark says, “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.”
Despite Wisconsin’s history of equality — it was the first state in the union to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace in
1982 — many members of the gay community are concerned that this attack could mean a step back for fairness.
David Kopitze, who has been with his partner, Paul Klawiter, for nearly 40 years, worries about what losing basic protections might mean for their family. “The domestic partnership registry provides fundamental protections that we need to take care of each other, that married couples in Wisconsin can assume they will always have,” he says.
View the legal briefs: