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Appeals court upholds Wisconsin's domestic partner registry

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MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Same-sex couples in Wisconsin will continue to get legal benefits, after a state appeals court upheld the domestic partner registry Friday morning.

The Fourth District Appellate Court in Madison struck down a pro-family group’s argument that the registry violates the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

Judge Paul Lundsten wrote that domestic partnerships are, “substantially different than marriages.” That’s because domestic partners have fewer legal rights and obligations than those affecting married couples.

Lundsten said the case was not about whether there’s a constitutional requirement that same-sex couples have the right to a legally-recognized partnership. He said the law’s supporters only had to show that the registry is not “substantially similar” to marriage – and the court is convinced that’s the case.

The domestic partner registry was created in 2009. It carries about one-fifth of the benefits that married couples have – including end of life decisions, and the legal right to visit a partner in the hospital.

Wisconsin Family Action has tried striking down the law almost since the Legislature passed it. There’s no immediate word on whether it would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the registry. 

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