Wisconsin Gov. Walker wants end to gay couples' rights

Paula Duffy's picture

Scott Walker, Wisconsin's governor is seeking an end to gay couples' limited rights, to tend to one another during an illness that requires hospitalization.

Walker spent months in the news early this year when he supported a bill that would severely curtail the ability of civil service workers to enjoy collective bargaining for terms of employment. It sent Democratic members of the state's senate into a tizzy and they fled the state to deprive the GOP of a voting quorum.

Each day for a couple of weeks, thousands of voters filled the statehouse and its grounds to protest the actions of their newly elected governor. Walker was undeterred and got his bill passed using parliamentary maneuvers that didn't require a voting quorum. It galvanized Democrats in Wisconsin to gather signatures to recall Republican state senators. Six legislators face being ousted from office as of this date. "Wisconsin 14" t-shirts used by Dems for fundraising to support recall effort.

Now, Walker seeks to end rights of another portion of his state's electorate. A bill passed in 2009, that became law in 2010 when Democrats were the majority party in the state legislature, is in danger of being overturned on state constitutional grounds.

It created a domestic partners registry in the state that would give certain rights to same-sex couples, without creating a domestic partnership under civil law. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that after the law went into effect, an organization called Wisconsin Family Action (WFA) filed suit, claiming the law violated provisions of Wisconsin's state constitution which specifically bans gay marriage and anything that looks and smells like the same thing.

Governor Jim Doyle, who Scott Walker replaced in January this year, began the process of defending the law against attack. Scott Walker wants to end that defense. The Journal Sentinel listed the rights granted under the domestic partners registry. "The registries allow same-sex couples to take family and medical leave to care for a seriously ill partner, make end-of-life decisions and have hospital visitation rights. But according to Fair Wisconsin, they still confer only about a quarter of the rights associated with marriage, lacking provisions to allow couples to file joint tax returns or adopt children together."

Walker, through his counsel filed a motion to end the defense against the suit brought by WFA. His reasoning is set forth in the brief filed with the court, "Governor Walker, in deference to the legal opinion of the attorney general that the domestic partner registry...is unconstitutional, does not believe the public interest requires a continued defense of this law."

Walker's chief counsel offered an alternative to withdrawing from defense of the law, if the court rules the state cannot do so. He asked that Walker be given the ability to amend papers already on file in the case to declare his belief that the law is unconstitutional.

Even if Walker wins the right to walk away, the case will still be defended. Fair Wisconsin, a gay rights organization intervened in the suit and was granted status as a party to the lawsuit.


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's father was a Baptist Pastor.... do the divine math. And to be fair, three democratic state senators will also be facing recall elections this summer.

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