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Wis. judge: Marriage imitation does not imitate marriage

ADF, allies to appeal ruling that allows ‘domestic partnership’ scheme to skirt voter-approved marriage amendment
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MADISON, Wis. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys and allied attorneys representing Wisconsin taxpayers will appeal a state judge’s ruling Monday which found that a state “domestic partnership” scheme that imitates marriage does not violate the state constitution’s prohibition on imitations of marriage.

The lawsuit, Appling v. Doyle, was filed in Dane County Circuit Court last year to stop then-Gov. Jim Doyle and the state legislature from skirting a voter-approved constitutional amendment protecting marriage that prohibits any “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.”

“The people of Wisconsin recognize that marriage provides a strong foundation for a thriving society. That’s why they approved a constitutional amendment that specifically protects marriage from all imitators. Politicians and activist groups should not be allowed to get around that,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. “We will appeal this decision because this domestic partnership scheme is precisely the type of marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent.”

“Throughout history, diverse cultures and faiths have recognized marriage between one man and one woman as the best way to promote healthy families and societies,” Nimocks continued. “That’s because marriage between a man and a woman naturally builds families--mom, dad, and children--and gives hope that the next generations will carry that on into the future.”

“The people of Wisconsin have strongly affirmed the lifelong, faithful union of a man and a woman as the fundamental building block of civilization,” said Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling.  “Our system of government serves no purpose if politicians can ignore the will of the people with impunity and get away with it.”

The “domestic partnership” scheme, proposed and signed into law by Doyle after passage by the Legislature as part of the 2010-11 state budget, is available only to couples involved in a same-sex relationship. “Domestic partners” receive “declarations” instead of “marriage licenses,” but otherwise, the procedures for becoming domestic partners and becoming husband and wife are virtually the same.

In November 2006, 59 percent of Wisconsin voters approved Article 13, Section 13, of the Wisconsin Constitution, which reads, “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.” In June 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously upheld the validity of the entire amendment’s enactment.

ADF attorneys are lead counsel in the suit together with co-counsel Mike Dean of the First Freedoms Foundation and co-counsel Richard M. Esenberg, two of more than 2,000 attorneys in the ADF alliance.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.