A Wisconsin appeals court on Friday
unanimously ruled the state's domestic partnership registry to be
The legislation extends a limited
number of protections for gay and lesbian couples, but opponents
argued that it violates the state's 2006 voter-approved
constitutional amendment banning marriage and anything substantially
similar to it for gay couples.
The 4th District Court of
Appeals noted that lawmakers who supported the amendment repeatedly
assured colleagues that it would not prevent gay couples from
receiving some benefits. The campaign to approve the amendment made
The state's largest gay rights
advocate, Fair Wisconsin, defended the registry in court.
“It demonstrates that Wisconsin
really is about trying to treat people fairly,” the group's
executive director, Katie Belanger, is quoted as saying by the AP.
“That's what we believe in. The amendment was an unfortunate
setback for equality in Wisconsin. But we still believe caring and
committed couples should have legal protections to take care of each
other in times of need.”
The socially conservative group
Wisconsin Family Action filed the legal challenge after former
Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, included the legislation in his 2009
biannual state budget approved by lawmakers.
Doyle appointed private attorneys to
defend the law in court after state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen
refused to do so. Van Hollen said he believed the law to be
Republican Governor Scott Walker fired
those attorneys, leaving Fair Wisconsin as the registry's only
In an email to supporters, Wisconsin
Family Action President Julaine Appling said her group would appeal
the case to the Republican-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“The people of Wisconsin have
strongly affirmed the lifelong, faithful union of a man and a woman
as the fundamental building block of civilization,” she said. “Our
system of government serves no purpose if politicians can ignore the
will of the people with impunity.”