The Wisconsin Supreme Court considers challenge to state's domestic partner registry

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Several hundred same-sex couples could lose their legal benefits in the state of Wisconsin.
And the decision now is in the hands of the State's Supreme Court.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the state's domestic partner registry which grants same-sex couples several legal rights.

The high court heard the arguments on Wednesday.

Domestic partnership law was passed as a part of Governor Jim Doyle’s 2009 budget.
Shortly after private citizens associated with a conservative group Wisconsin Family action filed a law suit stating the registry violates a 2006 state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage or anything substantially similar.

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be recognized in the state of Wisconsin, that's according to the constitutional amendment nearly 60 percent of voters passed in 2006.

And Wisconsin Family Action group says the lawsuit is about defending the will of people.

“We believe that it mimics marriage and it creates new legal status, known as domestic partnership; and it's substantially similar to the legal status of marriage in the state,” said Vice President of Wisconsin Family Action James Maillette.

“it's not similar to marriage at all,” said Eau Claire resident Carol Schumacher.

Out of 200 potential benefits available in the state Virginia Wolf and partner carol Schumacher receive just 44 with the domestic registry, for which they say they’re very grateful.

“A lot of them have to do with healthcare issues and since we're getting older it's real important to us,” explained Schumacher.

“In my lifetime I can't believe the progress that gay people have made. It's really made a difference,” said Wolf.

Wolf and Schumacher were the first couple to sign the registry in Eau Claire County nearly four years ago.

“We just hope domestic partnership rights don't go away for us,” said
Schumacher.

Wolf and Schumacher said if the domestic registry is stripped away they won't be able to legally protect each other, and the life they've build together over the past 38 years.

“I think it will set you back and think it would kind of break a lot of people's hearts,” added Schumacher.

Fair Wisconsin, the defendant in the case and the largest gay rights group, also said Wednesday the registry doesn't come close to marriage.
The group says marriage is a civil contract that comes with obligations that the registry doesn't require.


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