Wisconsin’s law that protects same-sex domestic partners is “just ‘marriage lite’,” discriminates against heterosexual couples and should be repealed, Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt said Friday.
Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, said in light of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling backing same-sex marriage, the domestic partner law — which ensures same-sex couples will retain certain rights — is no longer needed.
“There is no justification for Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnership Law since SCOTUS has bowed to public pressure and generated a constitutional right for same-sex marriage,” Thiesfeldt said in a statement. “The Domestic Partnership Law is clearly just ‘marriage lite,’ and has been discriminatory from its inception by excluding heterosexual couples seeking similar legal recognition.”
The statewide law applies to same-sex couples, but in Dane and Milwaukee counties, local ordinances allow opposite-gender couples to file as domestic partners, Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said. He said the state law gives couples many more rights, however, and couples in Dane County typically use it for insurance purposes.
He said a repeal of the statewide law would not affect the counties’ laws.
Thiesfeldt said language repealing the domestic partner registry should be included in the state 2015-17 budget bill. Spokesman Hariah Hutkowski did not respond to a question about whether Thiesfeldt’s vote for the budget was contingent on the repeal.
Also Friday, Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, circulated a bill that would remove a provision in the state’s constitution that recognizes only marriage between one man and one woman.
Gay marriage was banned in Wisconsin in 2006, but a federal court ruling in 2014 overturned the ban allowing marriage licenses to be granted to same-sex couples. In August, the state Supreme Court upheld the state’s domestic partnership registry.
In the unanimous decision written by Justice N. Patrick Crooks, the court emphasized that proponents of the amendment, including Wisconsin Family Action executive director Julaine Appling, the lead plaintiff in the case, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, made public statements in 2006 that the marriage amendment wouldn’t prevent the Legislature from granting certain rights to same-sex couples.
Myranda Tanck, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, said Fitzgerald has yet to review the proposal.