WMSN FOX 47
 

FOX47 NEWS - Challenge to Same-Sex Benefits

Jeff Angileri
Jul 23, 2009, 10:32 PM


A conservative group is trying to stop Wisconsin from offering benefits to same-sex couples.

Wisconsin Family Action says it goes against Wisconsin's gay marriage ban.

Starting August 3rd, county clerks across the state can begin issuing domestic partnerships to same sex couples.

"There are a lot of couples out there trying to be first to register," said Katie Belanger, executive director of Fair Wisconsin. "So, it's very exciting. This is such an important step for Wisconsin."

Registering means same-sex couples will receive 43 benefits under state law -- including the right to hospital visits, end of life decisions, and not having to testify against his or her partner in civil court.

Conservative groups say that sounds a lot like same-sex marriage, which is illegal in Wisconsin, ever since voters approved the ban in 2006.

"Politicians should not pass laws that violate the will of Wisconsin voters," said Jim Campbell, of Alliance Defense Fund, which represents Wisconsin Family Action. "This is more than just an issue of marriage or creating a marriage substitute or marriage imitation."

Fair Wisconsin disagrees. Forty-three benefits compared to the more than 200 enjoyed by married couples is not substantially the same, they say. And there is a lot more domestic partner benefits will not cover.

"Over 1,100 protection offered to couples under federal law -- nothing that has to do with federal law, taxes, social security," said Belanger.

Belanger says it is a matter of simple human rights.

"They just want to take care of each other. They want to have some of the most basic protections that all couples should have."

Wisconsin Family Action is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to overturn domestic partner benefits. Groups like Fair Wisconsin say if the lawsuit goes forward, they plan to do whatever they can do make sure same sex couples keep these benefits.

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