Judge: Legislature, Cities Cannot Fight Gay Rights Lawsuit

A judge has decided that the Legislature and several local governments cannot join the fight against a lawsuit seeking taxpayer funded benefits for partners of gay public employees.

Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan ruled that state law gives the Department of Justice the authority to defend the state's interests.

The lawsuit was filed by six lesbian state employees and the American Civil Liberties Union in April.

It claims the state's refusal to provide health insurance to their partners violates the equal protection clause of the Wisconsin constitution.

Republican State Representative Mark Gundrum, from New Berlin, argues that this is a unique case that warrants outside counsel because Lautenschlager has expressed support for gay rights.

Lautenschlager has said she can defend the case regardless of her personal opinion.