Friday, August 28, 2009

He Just Got A Letter, He Just Got A Letter! But What Would You Do?

So there has been quite the chatter about Attorney General Van Hollen's decision to not defend the domestic partner registry legislation. Now, we're being informed that he has written a letter to Governor Doyle to explain his decision. Apparently he will not defend the legislation because he believes it is flawed and that a domestic partnership may be substantially similar to that of marriage.

Well.. I'm curious about the full contents of that letter. So far the news hasn't revealed much more which hasn't been revealed before. Except of course that the AG believes the law is flawed.

I, for one, am wondering if religious conservatives are capable of putting their beliefs aside and constructing a legal status which grants rights to same-sex couples.

Our governor believes that all couples deserve legal protection. Up until now, not all couples have had that the ability to receive protections through the government. No matter how you look at it, the solution now in place has the best of intentions: to provide basic protection to same-sex couples. Some such as the Journal Sentinel's Patrick McIlheran would have you believe that this is not about legal protection, but only about sanctioning love or the right to love. Believe what you want because we're all free-thinking individuals. Just don't remind me that all couples have the option of purchasing legal protection. That suggests that opposite-sex couples have had TWO options for legal protection -- one a fraction of the cost of the other -- while same-sex couples only have had ONE EXPENSIVE option. And this doesn't even include the cost of the commitment ceremony or wedding, for those couples that choose to have a celebration.

I will go out of my way, however to say this. I agree: the domestic partnership declaration and the marriage license are identical in many ways except in who each is for and which rights are granted.

A quick side-by-side comparison of marriage licenses and domestic partnership declarations (based on my understanding) shows:

  • Two distinct audiences: one is for opposite-sex couples, the other for same-sex couples.
  • Different sets of rights:
    • Mathematically, 43/1200+ is less than 4%.
    • The declaration grants 43 rights from the state and no federal rights.
    • The license grants 200+ rights from the state and 1000+ federal rights.
    • Unlike marriage, the declaration does not grant adoption rights, legal support obligations, and comprehensive property rights.
  • Unlike marriage, divorce law is not required to end the domestic partnership.
  • They cost the same to obtain.
  • Both have the same qualification criteria.
  • Both are granted by the same process and same government officials.
  • A member of clergy is not required for both.

I'm forced to ask: when it comes to any legal construct which would grant rights to same-sex couples in Wisconsin:
  • Should it cost a percentage of the charge for a marriage license? In other words, should the domestic partnership declaration cost 4% that of a marriage license? In Waukesha County that would be $3.7625 instead of $105.
  • How long should they be together before they can become eligible for basic rights and protections?
  • What process should they follow and how should the process be administered?
  • From whom should they obtain the documentation for said legal construct?
  • What words should be spoken when granting the documentation?

I seriously doubt a casual definition to determine who is eligible, as McIlheran suggests, would fly with Joe the Voter. Might as well include Julaine Appling's "two men in an ice shanty" statement as a qualification to register.

So to all these people who are basically complaining about this small taste of equality that Wisconsin gay couples now have, I dare you to answer the following questions:
  • What will it take for you to allow and to work towards establishing a legal construct to grant rights and protections for same-sex couples, instead of using law to eradicate access to those rights?
  • What makes those rights special to opposite-sex couples?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rest In Peace, Les Paul

A great man has left us today. Les Paul, Waukesha native and one of the most influential people in music history. Click below to see a great story about this great man.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Yes, It's A Legal Option For Same-Sex Couples


“While we disagree with the constitutionality of the registry, we understand it’s a legal option for these folks,” said (Wisconsin Family Action President) Julaine Appling. The group chose not to have its members protest outside courthouses, she said.

Tornado Rainbow Triangle