Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has fired the attorney defending the state's law that recognizes gay and lesbian unions with domestic partnerships, the Capital Times reported.

The legislation extends a limited number of protections to gay couples, but opponents argue it violates the state's 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment banning marriage and civil unions for gay couples.

A spokesman for Walker confirmed that the governor had terminated the services of Madison attorney Lester Pines as counsel for the state in the lawsuit.

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.

Opponents immediately called the law an “end run” around the state's ban.

“In scope and in intent, this is 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, said in 2009.

Doyle hired Pines 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 unconstitutional.

“Governor Walker is ideologically opposed to equal rights for gay and lesbian and transgendered people as is everyone in his administration as far as I can tell,” Pines told the paper.

The governor's spokesman said his office “is still working to appoint a new counsel to the case.”