Monday, August 03, 2009

On, Wisconsin

A friend helpfully alerted me to goings-on in Wisconsin, a state I love for its fishing, camping, ButterburgersTM, kringle, tongue-twisting place names, and all-consuming passion for Packers and cheese, but which passed a particularly nasty marriage amendment forbidding official recognition of any same-sex marriage or approximation thereof in 2006. In response to the amendment, the state legislature passed a domestic partnership law that went into effect this morning. The full details are available here, but the highlights include inheritance from a deceased partner, certain protections against creditors, immunity from testifying against a partner, transfer of boat titles without a fee (very important in Wisconsin!), and the all-important hospital visitation, admissions, record access, and consent rights.

Predictably, the Alliance Defense Fund has their cheese curds in a knot.
"You can’t dispute that the state is creating a legal status. The state is creating an institution which is similar in its design to marriage, and that is exactly what the people of Wisconsin voted on and intended to prevent by passing the Wisconsin Marriage Amendment,” [ADF senior legal counsel Brian] Raum said.

Because gay people should die alone and afraid, and then have their blood relatives split up all their stuff. Just like Jesus wants. Or something.

Opponents say that the new domestic partnership classification offers nothing that can’t be accomplished by some other legal means. If couples want to, for instance, make sure that their property is transferred, they can create a will, Raum said.

No word on the ADF's stance on requiring all partnered couples, including straight ones, to draw up their own contracts specifying rights and responsibilities rather than forcing the state to grant them under the blanket status "married." Their argument would seem to fairly apparently boil down to forcing all people to structure the specifics of their relationships by "some other legal means" when those legal means are available. Because if they're going to shrug and tell the gays to just go off and draw up contracts covering every possible contingency, it can't be that big a deal, can it?

Tell you what, Brian--go out and hire lawyers to write and file the paperwork simulating as many of the 200 state and 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities you got the second your marriage license was notarized, and get back to me with how much that costs in money and time. I'm betting that even with the Lawyer Club discount, it's pretty steep. Then try to tell me with a straight face that a DP classification doesn't make any difference at all. No, really, go ahead. I've got all day here.

The ADF's challenge to the registry law is bobbing along in the Wisconsin Supreme Court system, possibly bumping hulls with the challenge to the original marriage amendment that is somewhere in those same waters. No idea yet on what the schedule is looking like for either one.

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