Let’s take a look at the statewide same-sex domestic partner registry proposed in the governor’s budget for the next two years and a few of our concerns with it.
1. The governor’s proposed statewide domestic partner registry in the state budget is very possibly unconstitutional because of its intent—to create a “legal status” that is very marriage-like (see page 483 of the bill–AB75)—and in its sweep—giving same-sex domestic partnerships (page 67) nearly 50% of the benefits (between 45 to 60 benefits) Wisconsin currently gives to married couples.
Throughout the bill, the term “domestic partner” is used in the same context as ‘spouse.’ It appears the intent is to approximate marriage, to test what ‘identical or substantially similar to marriage’ means in Wisconsin’s marriage protection amendment.
2. The statewide domestic partner registry is an “unfunded” mandate for counties, requiring them to register domestic partnerships and report them to the state.
3. The benefits the state awards to married couples are not rights or protections; they are benefits only. The state uses the benefits to reward and encourage married couples for the benefits marriages give to the state: providing a legal, social and economic framework for the rearing of children by a mother and father—the situation social science data as well as common sense inform us is the best possible situation for positive childhood development. The data also confirms that traditional marriage is the best possible situation for the health, satisfaction and affluence of a man or a woman. Stable, satisfied, self-sufficient families are the bedrock of society and the greatest contributors to society—thus the benefits.
4. This provision is unnecessary. The benefits proposed in the budget for same-sex domestic partners are all available through legal means to anyone and typically even legally married couples retain lawyers or seek legal counsel when they obtain them.(i.e. Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, etc.).