Appling v. Doyle - Profiles of the Couples

Document Date: October 1, 2010
Affiliate: ACLU of Wisconsin

Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning

Judi Trampf and Katy Heynig celebrated their 20th anniversary this past summer. The couple, who live in Madison, WI, registered as domestic partners when the law went into effect this year. They were friends for many years before they fell in love, having met in 1982 while they were both working in Wyoming. Judi, 50, works as the Director of Workplace Diversity for the University of Wisconsin, and Katy, 48, is the Dean of College of Education at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater.

Judi and Katy were on a trip to New Orleans in 2002 when Katy had a seizure. At the hospital, Katy was admitted to the ER unconscious. Judi had Power of Attorney so that she could make emergency medical decision on behalf of Katy, but the hospital staff told her she would need to present the form, which she had left in Wisconsin. Judi had to call Katy’s closest living relative – a brother in Tennessee – to let him know that Katy was in the hospital and to tell him that he might be called upon to make decisions about her care. Fortunately, Katy finally gained consciousness and was able to make her own medical decisions. As soon as they could, Judi and Katy returned to Wisconsin. While the Wisconsin domestic partner law would probably not have helped them in New Orleans, the couple registered as domestic partners so that they would at least be spared the some worry of being treated as strangers by health care workers in Wisconsin.

In the months after her seizure, Katy couldn’t drive for three months, but part of her job required travel (she was supervising students in the field), so Judi had to take her vacation time to drive Katy to doctor’s appointments as well as to and from work. Thanks to an understanding boss, Judi was also permitted to take some sick days to care for Katy, but she knew she had no legal rights to family medical leave. The domestic partner law would guarantee that they are able to take leave to care for one another.
» Affidavits of Judi Trampf & Katy Heyning

Wendy and Mary Woodruff

Wendy and Mary Woodruff have been together for 13 years, and were united in the Rite of Holy Union on February 6, 1999. The couple registered as domestic partners as soon as the law took effect in 2009. Mary, 57, is retired after working over 20 years for the Naperville Public Library in Illinois. Wendy has a 34-year-old son from a previous marriage, as well as a brand new granddaughter. Originally from Chicago, the couple moved to Milwaukee in 2006 when Wendy, 59, became pastor of Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Church.

Wendy used to work as a telecommunications engineer and trainer. She had long been involved in the church and felt a strong calling to become a minister for many years. In 2002 she was given the option to either be laid off or retire, so she retired, went to seminary, and was ordained in 2006. In her ministry, Wendy often sees how the lack of legal recognition for same sex couples hurts families. Just recently one of her congregants lost everything, including her home and furniture, when her partner was killed and the partner’s relatives swooped in and took everything. “Imagine what it must be like to lose the person you’ve loved your whole life, and then on top of that to lose your home and all the possessions the two of you worked so hard for,” said Rev. Woodruff. “We want to do everything we can to be sure nothing like that ever happens to one of us.”

Wendy and Mary are concerned that if one of them should require long-term care, the other spouse would have limited access for visits, and they dread the thought of being forced to live apart. As Mary said, “We built a life together with the intention of being together for the rest of our lives. We’ve done what we can to protect each other and our relationship, but as we get older we keep finding more and more situations in which we struggle to protect ourselves.”
» Affidavits of Wendy & Mary Woodruff

Robin Timm & Jayne Dunnum

Jayne Dunnum and Robin Timm have been together for 18 years. The Wisconsin natives celebrated a commitment ceremony in 1992 and registered as domestic partners when the law went into effect last year. Jayne has worked for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections since 1990. Robin has a nursing degree and used to work as a public health inspector, but now she works on the couple's 20-acre farm in Platteville and at a natural foods store that the couple owns with two other families. They are godparents to four children from Milwaukee who enjoy visiting Jayne and Robin on the farm where they grow produce, which they sell in their store. Robin also makes vegetable oil soaps using herbs they grow on the farm and flower blossom syrup.

Robin’s mother, who is 77, has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As registered domestic partners, Jayne would be able to take family medical leave to help care for Robin’s mother if her condition deteriorates, which is likely considering her advanced age. If the law is struck down, Jayne will not be able to take family leave.

The couple is also worried about the other legal protections that come with domestic partnership that are now in jeopardy. After Robin was injured on the farm that required a trip to the emergency room, they are especially concerned about the ability to visit each other in the hospital and participate in conversations about each others care. The law would also guarantee that neither Robin nor Jayne is shut out of the other’s inheritance.
» Affidavits of Robin Timm & Jayne Dunnum

Carol Schumacher & Virginia Wolf

Together 35 years, Virginia and Carol moved to Wisconsin in 1977 and live together in Eau Claire. Virginia, 70, is a former English professor and Unitarian Universalist minister. Carol, 57, worked as an elections specialist for the city until her retirement in 2008. The couple, who were married in the Unitarian Universalist church in 1990, raised Virginia's two children from a previous relationship together and are now proud grandmothers of two girls and a boy. They registered as domestic partners last year when domestic partnership became available in the state.

Several years ago, Carol was taken to the emergency room and the nurse refused to allow Virginia to be with her, telling her that only family was allowed. Virginia insisted, and the nurse eventually relented. After registering as domestic partners, the couple hoped they would no longer have to worry about being treated as strangers at the hospital, but this lawsuit has renewed those fears.

As they enter their senior years, they also worry they will be shut out of conversations about each others medical care and other end-of-life decisions and worry that they will be barred from sharing a room if they end up in a nursing home.
» Affidavits of Carol Schumacher & Virginia Wolf


Diane Schermann & Michelle “Missy” Collins

Diane, 48, and Michelle, 39, became friends after meeting at a softball game in 1999, and became romantically involved  five years later.  The couple, who live in Eau Claire, had a commitment ceremony in 2004 and registered as domestic partners when the law went into effect in 2009.  The couple has a new son, born in April 2008, that Missy conceived through in vitro fertilization. They are also raising Diane’s daughter, Jeanette, from a previous marriage. (Their son Thomas is now 22-years-old and recently graduated from college.)   

They are also currently caring for two teenage foster children. They are both licensed as family foster care providers, and have raised several foster children over the years, providing for them until they aged out of the system and continuing e to include them as a part of their extended family.  Most recently, they are in the process of adopting two children with special needs, ages 2 1/2 and 9 years old, that are currently in their care.  

Diane is no longer able to work and is receiving social security disability insurance. Previously, Diane had worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as an Advanced Engineering Specialist, responsible for the emergency and routine maintenance of the state highways in three counties in northwest Wisconsin.  Missy received her bachelors in Social Work in May 2009 and works for the Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, Inc. to license foster homes and train foster parents to care for children with special needs.  

They both spend most of their time outside of work caring for their children.  Missy often coaches the children’s many athletic teams.  They also volunteer for various community groups and both have completed six months of training by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to learn to support, educate and advocate for better treatment and services for special needs children and their parents.  Diane has received awards for her community service volunteering in outreach programs for young people. 

Both Diane and Missy have faced a series of health problems over the years.  They registered as domestic partners to ensure that they would be able to visit each other in the hospital if they need to be hospitalized.  As they know each others health histories and wishes best, they are also relying on the domestic partnership law to help make sure they are included in consultations about the others care and treatment if incapacitated.  If one of them becomes seriously ill, the domestic partner law would also enable the other to take family leave time to care for the ill partner. 

Like many couples their age, they have put off preparing wills because they can’t afford to do so.  If one of them were to die, the domestic partner law would guarantee that at least half of their property would automatically pass to the other, providing needed financial security for their family and children.  The law would also provide additional rights in the probate process, including the ability to seek temporary support during the administrative process, funds that would be critical to securing the family home and the financial burden of a suddenly single mother caring for six children. 
» Affidavits of Diane Schermann & Michelle "Missy" Collins


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