Monday, August 3, 2009

Historic Day in Midwest as Wisconsin's Domestic Partner Registry Goes Into Effect

Wisconsin's domestic partnership law goes into effect today, marking a historical moment because it is the first state in the Midwest to extend protections to same-sex couples through legislation.

WQOW reports:
The first same-sex couple in Madison has signed up for the state's new domestic partnership registry.

Janice Czyscon, 56, and her partner, 57-year-old Crystal Hyslop, arrived at the Dane County offices at 5:12 a.m. and waited in the rain until the doors opened. About two dozen more same-sex couples waiting in line cheered and clapped at 8 a.m. as county Clerk Robert Ohlsen (OHL'-son) led them into the office to fill out their application.
Capital Times reports on couples Bob Klebba and his partner of 11 years, David Waugh, who went to the Dane County Clerk's Office this morning to register.

Married in California during the Summer of Love, registering is semi-sweet, because though in fact they are legally married, Wisconsin has seen them up until today as legal strangers. Even after registering, the state which banned marriage equality in 2006, still won't view them as married.

"For us personally, we are taking one step backward by signing up," Klebba told the Capital Times. "The registry allows the authorities to recognize us as lesser citizens and not to recognize us for what we truly are ... a married couple."

Attorney Tamara Packard says the same-sex couples who are legally wed shouldn't tell the county clerks when applying for registry.

"For legal purposes in Wisconsin, it's as if those marriages never happened," Packard says. "As horrible as that is to say, they are not married."

Reports Capital Times:
With some 1,400 to 2,400 same-sex couples living in Dane County, turnout Monday was expected to be robust as couples have their first opportunity to take advantage of the historic piece of legislation signed by Gov. Jim Doyle June 29.

While the registry will now afford same-sex couples some 40 legal protections previously extended only to married couples, it falls short in making all couples equal. Despite this fact, three members of Wisconsin Family Action have filed suit. They claim the registry violates the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage.

"The registry doesn't even come close to providing equality," says Emily Dudak Taylor, an attorney with the Law Center for Children & Families in Madison. "That's why the lawsuit is so laughable."
Find out more about both domestic partner registry and how you can volunteer to protect the law at Fair Wisconsin.

Image: Mike DeVries/The Capital Times

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