Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thank You Governor Doyle For The WI Domestic Partner Registry!

Governor Doyle has included in this year's budget a provision for setting up a statewide domestic partner registry. This is great news for the thousands of same-sex couples living in Wisconsin. According to Fair Wisconsin, the statewide domestic partnership registry will grant access to 43 rights, protections, and privileges to same-sex couples who choose to register.

In his address, Governor Doyle stated:

If we want our economy to flourish – if we want to help attract and retain talented workers – it is also time to make sure our state takes some basic steps toward fairness and decency. First, we can make sure that domestic partners who work for the state have access to benefits. We can also make sure that a committed couple has visitation rights at a hospital, and the right to take the appropriate leave if one has a serious illness. This isn’t an issue of being gay or straight – we are not judging people’s lives here. But I don’t want the state to stand in the way of someone being able to care for their long-term partner. And I don’t want the state to be less competitive at our university and other institutions because we don’t treat people fairly.

When you break down that absurd second sentence of the amendment which bans civil unions and marriage for gay couples.. never mind the debate whether or not a registry (in other words a list) creates a legal status. It goes without saying that the "legal status identical or substantially similar" clause is far-reaching and meant to include "civil union." In fact Appling herself has made it quite clear that the amendment was intended to ban gay marriage and not to limit domestic partner benefits.

Take into consideration Webster's definition for the word substantial. Mathematically, 43 out of 200+ is not even close to a majority. I cannot see how 43 rights, privileges, and protections are considerable in quantity or significantly great compared to the 200+ that can be granted to heterosexual couples automatically at the stroke of a pen. This is far from substantial.


In simplest terms its about equal treatment under the law. 43 out of 200+ may fall short of full equality, but its far better than having nothing. Besides: government should be granting rights, privileges, and protections and not eliminating them. Among the protections the new registry will grant are requiring hospitals to allow visitation of domestic partners and requiring businesses with 50 or more employees to allow family leave in the event of the death or serious illness of a domestic partner.

These are issues that we should not be worried about in times of emergency, and I cannot wait to find out more about the other 41 rights, protections, and privileges.

Thank you Governor Doyle for several things. You've given us the choice to register our long term relationships if we desire to do so. You've eased the burden we face in order to establish legal protections for our relationships. You've freed up time, money, and energy which we can now spend elsewhere.

Most of all -- thank you Governor Doyle for granting rights, protections, and privileges for the same-sex couples of Wisconsin!!

(but first the budget has to pass.. hopefully the beancounters out there can see the potential new revenue source here, no?)

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