Wisconsin Debate Over Gay Rights Issue May Head To Court

The American Civil Liberties Union and the state's attorney general say the Legislature should stay out of a major gay rights lawsuit.

Both have told a judge last week that Republican lawmakers have no legal grounds to fight a lawsuit seeking state-funded health benefits for the partners of hundreds of gay state employees.

Lawmakers have hired the Christian advocacy group Alliance Defense Fund to represent their interests in the case even though they are not named in the A-C-L-U lawsuit.

Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan is considering whether to allow the group to join in on the case. He's scheduled a hearing for August eleventh.

Lautenschlager is defending the state against the lawsuit, which claims the state's refusal to provide domestic partner benefits violates the Wisconsin Constitution.

In legal briefs filed in the last week, Lautenschlager and the A-C-L-U say the matter should be decided by the courts, not the Legislature, and that lawmakers' claims that providing the benefits would be costly are exaggerated.