Aug 11, 2009

Wisconsin DP Opponents Take Hit

Opponents of Wisconsin’s new domestic partner benefits registry took a political and legal hit when it was revealed that their current position is contradicted by their own statements three years ago.

Wisconsin’s chief anti-marriage equity group, Wisconsin Family Action, publicly announced in 2006 that their successful effort to implement a constitutional ban on gay marriage would not affect state, municipal, and private domestic partner benefits, a position that legal observers say could doom their DP challenge.

In July, Family Action and their legal team, the Alliance Defense Fund, filed suit at the Wisconsin Supreme Court, claiming the domestic-partnership enacted last week violates the 2006 constitutional amendment approved by voters banning both gay marriage and unmarried individuals’ being granted legal status that is “identical or substantially similar to that of marriage.”

A piece in the August 9, 2009 GOP-leaning Wisconsin State Journal, by Charles Brace points out that, “in 2006, members of the group and other supporters of the constitutional ban said the measure would not affect domestic partner benefits, according to public statements reported in the media and on their websites.”

Brace writes, “Family Action president Julaine Appling, for example, told the Associated Press on December 8, 2005, that courts wouldn’t strike down domestic partner benefits for couples if the amendment were passed by voters in a referendum later that year. ‘If the state Legislature wants to take up adoption and inheritance rights, it can do that,’ she said. ‘Nothing in the second sentence … prohibits that.’

As Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban is imperiled by an authoritative legal challenge in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the state’s existing domestic partner benefits registry now appears on safer ground, receiving a boost from the contradictions of DP’s main opponents.

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