Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle defended a gay-inclusive domestic partnership law created through the state budget process being challenged by a social conservative group as a “sneaky assault on marriage.”

Wisconsin became the first state with a constitutional amendment banning marriage and civil unions for gay and lesbian couples to recognize their unions with passage of the registry last month. Governor Jim Doyle, a Democrat, lobbied for the legislation, which extends a limited number of protections for gay and lesbian couples, by including the language in his biannual state budged approved by lawmakers. Most of the 43 rights granted to couples center around estate planning and hospital visitation issues. The law goes into effect August 3.

The group Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), which supported passage of the 2006 voter-approved anti-gay marriage amendment as the Family Research Institute, and the Christian-based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) announced last week they were taking their fight to the state Supreme Court.

“This new domestic partnership scheme is a sneaky assault on marriage from those who are determined to redefine marriage in Wisconsin,” Julaine Appling, president of WFA and lead petitioner in the lawsuit, said in a statement.

On Friday, Doyle told Wisconsin Radio Network that he was confident the law was legal and indicated that he thinks Appling and her group have been deceptive in their public statements.

“The lawyers have all assured me that this is not a marriage, but I think most people agree that it's a statement of some basic rights that most people in Wisconsin think should be protected.”

“These are people, who by the way, when the Wisconsin constitutional amendment was passed made repeated public statements saying that this would not preclude domestic partnership legislation. So now, apparently, they're singing a different tune.”

Doyle said that the gay-inclusive domestic partner law allowed Wisconsin to provide some basic human rights for people without getting “embroiled in the whole marriage issue.”