Wisconsin lawmakers approved
recognition of gay unions with the passage of a domestic partner
registry last week, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel
The state becomes the first with a
constitutional amendment banning marriage and civil unions for gay
and lesbian couples to recognize their unions.
Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, lobbied
for the legislation, which extends a limited number of protections
for gay couples, by including the language in his biannual state
budget unveiled in February. Democrats, who control the Legislature,
gave him a standing ovation.
“This isn't an issue of being gay or
straight – we are not judging people's lives here,” Doyle said in
his budget address to the Legislature. “But I don't want the state
to stand in the way of someone being able to care for their long-term
partner. And I don't want the state to be less competitive at our
university and other institutions because we don't treat people
Four states – Maine, New Hampshire,
Vermont and Iowa – have legalized gay marriage in 2009, but several
states are moving more cautiously, providing basic protections for
gay couples first, including Wisconsin, Washington State, and Nevada.
In Washington State, lawmakers agreed to extend a domestic
partnership law to include all the rights and obligations of
marriage, a move being challenged by opponents. All three states
prohibit gay marriage by law or constitutional amendment.
Opponents, who have called the law an
“end run” around the state's ban on marriage and civil unions for
gay couples approved by voters in 2006, say they will challenge the
“In scope and in intent, this is very
marriage-like and shows that it's an attempt to overturn the will of
the people,” Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action,
which supported the anti-gay marriage amendment as the Family
Research Institute, told the paper.
But Appling's group repeatedly asserted
during the campaign to pass the gay marriage ban that they were not
against granting gay couples basic rights, and were only interested
in protecting marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The registry opens Monday, August 3.