ACLU of Wisconsin tells Joint Finance Committee: Budget's domestic partnership proposal constitutional – We'll help defend domestic partners

Affiliate: ACLU of Wisconsin
April 17, 2009 12:00 am

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Milwaukee – Governor Jim Doyle’s budget proposal to create a domestic partner registry with a limited number of benefits is constitutional. Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin wrote to the co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance to explain why the proposal does not violate the Wisconsin Constitution’s ban on creating a legal status “substantially similar to that of marriage….” These budget provisions “are not even close to being substantially similar to marriage,” wrote ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty.

The ACLU of Wisconsin’s letter makes its case by quoting at length the statements of the Marriage Amendment’s proponents who reassured the public “that domestic partner benefits were secure if the Amendment passed.” For instance, the ACLU of Wisconsin provided the co-chairs with additional copies of Representative Mark Gundrum’s November 17, 2005 memo seeking co-sponsors for the Amendment. Gundrum wrote in part, “This proposal does not prohibit the state, local governments or private entities from setting up their own legal construct to provide particular privileges or benefits, such as health insurance benefits, pension benefits, joint tax return filing, hospital visitation, etc. as those bodies are able and deem appropriate.”

Because the case in defense of the proposal is so strong and because of the ACLU’s long standing support of protections for domestic partners, Ahmuty assured legislators that, “the ACLU and the ACLU of Wisconsin are prepared to help defend domestic partners in court.”

Ahmuty, concluded his letter by urging legislators, “to adopt the domestic partner registry proposal with at least the current number, if not more, protections attached.”

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