Petition for review filed to defend will of the people,
institution of marriage and Wisconsin Constitution
MADISON— Does Wisconsin’s marriage amendment permit the legislature to create a “domestic partnership” legal status that has the same procedures and requirements as marriage? That is the question the Wisconsin Supreme Court is being asked to address.
“The question essentially comes down to this: Does the marriage amendment mean what it says?” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Appling v. Doyle. “We have long said that we will continue to defend marriage, the state constitution, and the will of the people. This petition for review by the state’s highest court is the next step in that defense.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and their local co-counsel, Mike Dean of First Freedoms Foundation and Richard M. Esenberg, filed the petition for review on behalf of Appling and other plaintiffs Tuesday.
With the exception that “domestic partners” receive a “declaration” rather than a “marriage license,” the process for same-sex couples seeking the legal status of “domestic partner” is identical to that of heterosexual couples seeking the legal status of “married”—ironically right down to requiring that people seeking either legal status be informed about fetal alcohol syndrome.
Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment, passed on a 59.4% to 40.6% vote by more than 1.25 million voters, states that “a legal status identical to or substantially similar to that of marriage shall not be valid or recognized in this state.” In June 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in McConkey v. Van Hollen, unanimously ruled that the entire amendment deals with a single subject—marriage.
Gov. Jim Doyle and Democratic legislators created the statewide, same-sex-only domestic partnership registry as part of the 2009-2011 state budget. In their capacity as taxpayers, several WFA board members filed a lawsuit in the Dane County Circuit Court in August 2010, alleging the registry is in direct violation of the marriage amendment. In June 2011, the Circuit Court ruled the registry was constitutional. Shortly thereafter, the WFA board members appealed to the Court of Appeals, which last month agreed with the lower court and prompted the petition to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
“The lifelong, faithful union of a man and a woman is the foundation of every healthy, stable society. The people of Wisconsin recognize this, and that is why they approved a constitutional amendment that specifically protects marriage from all imitators,” said Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. “We are appealing the appellate court’s decision because this domestic partnership scheme is precisely the type of marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent.”