MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge ruled Monday that Wisconsin’s domestic partnership registry does not violate the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage — a major victory for the state’s largest gay rights group that had defended the registry established in 2009 to bestow legal rights to same-sex couples.

The social conservative group that brought the lawsuit vowed to appeal it all the way to the state Supreme Court if necessary.

Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser ruled that the 2009 law does not create a legal status for partners that is identical or substantially similar to that of marriage and therefore it does not violate the constitutional ban approved by voters in 2006.

“The state does not recognize domestic partnership in a way that even remotely resembles how the state recognizes marriage,” Moeser said in the ruling. “Moreover, domestic partners’ have far fewer legal rights, duties, and liabilities in comparison to the legal rights, duties, and liabilities of spouses.”

Members of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action filed the lawsuit last summer arguing the registry was unconstitutional. The group’s president Julaine Appling called the ruling “just the first step in what will be a long process.”

“We’re going to work through the process and we will be appealing as we work to defend the constitution and the institution of marriage,” Appling said.

Wisconsin Family Action had asked the state Supreme Court to strike down the registry directly, bypassing the lower courts. But the Supreme Court refused to act on the case before it went through the lower courts first.

Katie Belanger, director of the state’s largest gay rights group Fair Wisconsin, heralded the ruling, calling it a “great day for Wisconsin.”

She said the group was prepared for the judge’s decision to be appealed and it will continue to defend the law, which she said provides same-sex couples rights that are essential for them to care for one another in times of need.

She said about 1,700 couples were signed up for the registry. The majority of those, about 1,300, signed up in the first four months it was available in 2009.

Democratic state Rep. Mark Pocan, who is gay and fought for the law, praised the judge’s ruling, calling the lawsuit challenging it a “mean-spirited and unjust attack on same-sex couples. Hopefully, this will put the fears of not being able to visit your loved one in the hospital to rest.”

The registry grants same-sex couples legal rights such as the right to visit each other in hospitals, make end-of-life decisions and inherit each other’s property.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the registry, relying on his legal conclusion the list was clearly unconstitutional. Former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, had appointed private attorneys to defend the law.

But his successor, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, fired those attorneys earlier this year and told the judge in May that he wanted to stop defending the registry in court because he believed it was unconstitutional.

Fair Wisconsin had lobbied lawmakers to approve the registry and had joined the case as an intervener and was defending the registry.

The judge already had heard arguments in the case by the time Walker submitted his request. He noted the change in position earlier this month.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court last year also upheld the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions but the ruling did not affect the registry. The constitutional amendment was approved by 59 percent of voters.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (24)
  1. Bliss says:


    Now Governor Walker can legally sleep with one of the Koch brothers.

    1. Drunken Dissed Orderly says:

      Actually that was always legal.

  2. max says:

    That anyone would challenge the registry in the first place is disgusting. Would straight marriage in general be affirmed and validated whenever a gay person was prevented from visiting their partner in the hospital?

  3. Char says:

    The Gay population isn’t hurting any one and yet people feel the need to attack them. If it will bring them comfort to be able to sit on their loved ones bed side when they are ill, why does that bother so many people. It would be no different than a straight person wanting to be at the bed side of their loved ones. Should we take that right away from straight people. The sanctity of marriage has nothing to do with sitting with someone while they are ill in the hospital or making a decision in the hospital. This law does not allow Gay couples to get married, it just allows them to give the one they love more access to their life. I think what this Judge did was amazing and I commend him.

    1. Mr. M says:

      Fully Agreed and well said Char. Clearly you have a loving and kind heart. Thank you so much for being a light in this world of dark hate from conservatives who try and force their selfish will upon innocent others.

  4. Dale Gribble says:

    Once again liberal activist judges ignore the will of the people. This judge should be removed from office and prosecuted for treason. The voters in Wisconsin have made it clear that they do not recognize sinful relationships.

    1. Drunken Dissed Orderly says:

      The state of Wisconsin does not recognize “sin” as a violation of law either.

    2. James2 says:

      Dale, Just who are “the people?” Guess in your book, not all taxpayers are. I guess then that “for all” should be changed to “for heteros”. And Dale, heteros are also sinful in their relationships only I guess that God is ok with that. Right?

    3. What??? says:

      Rusty is back and as bitter as ever with a new name! You are one of the most pathetic people I have ever had the privilege to read a post from. Treason? You are either just trolling or a simple person (and when I say simple I really mean stupid, small minded, idiotic, angry, and just plain ridicules). History will show you and your ilk as being just as stupid and sad as the people that would not allow blacks to marry. The year is 2011, either get with the times or fade back into the cave you came from as you have no idea what “the people” want. If you are throwing the word treason around like that you do not know much to begin with as the way you use it has nothing to do with the meaning of the word. Long story short, your ignorance is showing and you may want to comb that back over.

      1. Mr. M says:

        I love your passion! Well said!!! Thank you for supporting love and kindness over the shadow of restriction and hatred. There is no sin or anything wrong with two loving souls caring for one another.

  5. Rox says:

    I would like to know what hospital would turn away anyone from seeing a patient in the hospital whether you are straight or gay. I have never heard of such a thing before. Could this be over exaggeration by the gay population. I have nothing against the gay population I just think they make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    1. sdate says:

      This does happen (and if I weren’t sitting in the waiting room of my car dealer I would look up the actual cases for you) This happens when a person is unable to make their own intents clear and hospitals will not follow the direction of someone who is not a spouse or family member. It also happens when the family is not on good terms with the partner and directs the hospital to restrict visitations to ‘family members only..’

  6. Drunken Dissed Orderly says:

    “Could this be over exaggeration by the gay population. I have nothing against the gay population I just think they make a mountain out of a mole hill.”

    So you think they actually DO have those rights, but are somehow fabricating the blocking is happening? Yet you admit you have no idea.

    1. James2 says:

      In the same way Drunken, heteros are making a mountain out of a mole hill about equality. I have nothing against straight people but they can really exaggerate and fabricate much to do about nothing. So maybe you have no idea or can you relate?

      1. Drunken Dissed Orderly says:

        @James2, perhaps you misunderstood my comment?

        I DID put quotations around the quote I was commenting on.

        Did you miss that?

      2. What??? says:

        Are you really attacking someone that is defending the same position that you have? You may want to read a little closer as Drunken was responding to Rox’s ignorant post. Hence why Drunken used quotations and put most of the post from Rox down and then explained why the post was short sighted and just plain ironic as it went against itself. There is enough hate out here and you don’t want to start turning on your own now.

  7. Rox says:

    What was ignorant about my post. I was just asking a question. Why does everyone always have to call names on these posts? Geez you can’t even ask a question without being called names. What is wrong with you people. Are you angry your whole lives. Wow try smiling a little it makes life a whole lot better.

    1. Mr. M says:

      Yeah, I think there are some people that are a little angry with the systems of rights for some and not for others. My gay friends are expected to follow the same laws and pay taxes, but they don’t get the same rights or life-privliges as others? It is grossly unfair. Especially when my gay friends are the kindest, nicest, peaceful, and most loving people I’ve EVER met in my life.

    2. What??? says:

      The definition of the word ignorant:
      1. Lacking education or knowledge.
      2. Lacking in awareness or knowledge.
      3. Unaware or uninformed.
      So tell me again where I was calling names when you yourself said that you did not know and were asking? This sounds like a perfect fit for the word I used. I would continue but I do not want to overwhelm you, just a thought though, you can look things up yourself on the computer to find out definitions of words as well as information that you are asking for. So I guess I could substitute lazy for ignorant then?

      1. rox says:

        My comments stay the same. Are you people angry all the time??? Name calling, I feel like I am in grade school. Smile and people smile with you. You can get your points across without the name calling can’t you? Oh wait another question I better look that up so I am not considered lazy on top of ignorant. 🙂

        1. What??? says:

          You can try to play with the words as much as you would like, but the fact of the matter is that your comment was ignorant. If you have to ask the question on why they were ignorant maybe you should read your post again. “Could this be over exaggeration by the gay population” is just like stating that they are complaining about nothing. “I just think they make a mountain out of a mole hill” is stating that they should just shut up and not complain even though they are being treat like 2nd class citizens. If you cannot see this than no amount of questions that you pose are going to help you out. Yes we are angry, no I am not gay, but I can see an injustice that is going on here and it burns at my very core. I would not like anyone telling me what I cannot do because of who I choose to spend my life with when they tell my neighbor the opposite because of who they decide to spend their life with. This is the simple point and not hard to understand. Ignorance is already listed there for you to see and if you cannot look at the definition and see why your comments fall under ignorant there is nothing else I can say. It is staring you in the face yet you continue to try and play the victim card. This is the problem, you do not see how your comments are affecting, or even hurting others and you complain that someone hurt you because of a post you did not put much thought into? The world’s smallest violin is playing for you somewhere. I am sorry you feel that I was picking on you but maybe you can take this knowledge and use it to have an idea what gay people go through each day. I happen to have a very good friend who is gay and I have to hear about all the people who choose not to try to see it from their eyes. All the name calling that you are talking about is given to them every day. They also turn on the news to see protests and people yelling that they are an abomination and that God hates them all and so on and so forth. If you really did not realize that your words hurt, even your “questions” still hurt, then you might not want to speak until you know what you are talking about.

  8. Mr. M says:

    Wait… let me get this right… Julaine Appling’s purpose in life is to suppress the rights of a loving, caring, peaceful group of people labeled “gay”? She gets some kind of rise out of upholding a rediculous law? Is it a power trip for her to hurt others by taking rights away from them? SICK

  9. Bill says:

    Bad Reporting.

    The key question is are they eligible for spousal benefits provided by the taxpayers?

    1. Just a dude says:

      You mean benefits like hospitals right??? How dare those gays ask to be with their dying loved ones?? And why shouldn’t they get the same benefits? Last I checked marriage was a religious institution not a government one, so if church and state were truly separated then the government should either give no benefits based on marriage or give everyone an opportunity to obtain those benefits.

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