Wisconsin Attorney General John Byron
“J.B.” Van Hollen said Friday he would not defend the state's
gay-inclusive domestic partnership registry, calling it
unconstitutional, the AP reported.
The group Wisconsin Family Action (WFA)
and the Christian-based Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) have asked the
state Supreme Court to strike down the law, arguing that it is
prohibited by the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage approved
by voters in 2006. WFA supported the passage of the anti-gay
marriage amendment as the Family Research Institute.
Despite being challenged, the law that
gives gay and lesbian couples access to 43 rights, most of which
center around estate planning and hospital visitation issues, took
effect earlier in the month.
Van Hollen, a Republican who is eyeing
a 2010 run for governor, said: “My duty is to the people of the
state of Wisconsin and the highest expression of their will – the
constitution of the state of Wisconsin. When the people have spoken
by amending our constitution, I will abide by their command. When
policy-makers have ignored their words, I will not.”
Van Hollen's decision means the state
will need to hire outside counsel to defend the policy.
The registry made Wisconsin the first
state 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 by
including the language in his biannual state budget approved by
Doyle, who has bowed out of the 2010
gubernatorial race, has said he is confident the law is legal and
believes opponents have been deceptive in their public statements.
“The lawyers have all assured me that
this is not marriage, but I think most people agree that its a
statement of some basic rights that most people in Wisconsin think
should be protected,” Doyle told Wisconsin Radio Network.
“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
Over 400 gay and lesbian couples have
registered their relationships since the law went into effect on
August 3, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.