Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Green Bay could support lawsuit against domestic partnership registry

Green Bay’s City Council could lend their name in support of a lawsuit filed by a conservative group challenging the state’s domestic partnership registry.

Wisconsin Family Action filed the lawsuit in January after a state employee requested health care coverage for his partner, according to Thomas De Wane, City Council President.

Wisconsin Family Action has said they do not want the council’s help in this way, De Wane said.


However, the council, along with 56 percent of Green Bay residents, voted against including a provision to allow for such benefits in the 2006 marriage amendment, De Wane said.

Using this logic, Alderman Shae Sortwell said by the council supporting the lawsuit it would be standing by the electorate’s desires.

De Wane questioned the proximity of the lawsuit – it was filed in Madison, so it will not affect Green Bay constituents, De Wane said.

Therefore, De Wane said that despite Sortwell’s belief that “the majority” of the council would support the lawsuit, De Wane did not expect the resolution to pass in the future.

The council will continue to support the marriage amendment limiting legal marriage between a man and woman.

Only three alders potentially support the lawsuit out of the 12 in the city council, De Wane said.

“I’m not going to support the resolution – it would be chasing something that isn’t going to do anything,” De Wane said.

Although council members decided to postpone
voting on the measure Wednesday night due to the change in state leadership because of Tuesday’s election, Sortwell remains confident in the council’s support of the lawsuit.

Sortwell said a majority of the council will support the resolution, which states the city council will support Wisconsin Family Action in their lawsuit in any way possible.

Yet if the council votes to support the resolution, its involvement would be symbolic in principle until the case reached the appellate courts, Sortwell said.

According to Sortwell, in the appellate court stage, the council would have the option of filing a joint petition or friend of the court brief, though both options would require further consideration.

Regardless of whether Green Bay backs the lawsuit, the case could cause the entire domestic partnership registry to be ruled unconstitutional, Sortwell said.

This outcome would return the law to before the amendment was passed and nullify any partnerships that have already registered in addition to preventing further registrations.

The likelihood of the lawsuit to successfully undo the domestic partnership registration is uncertain, though.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court refused to hear the WFA’s original petition, said Stacy Harbaugh, spokesperson for the ACLU of Wisconsin.

Harbaugh said the lawsuit is flawed because marriage rights and the domestic partnership registry are not comparable.

The ACLU has filed a petition to fight against this possibility and to defend the domestic partnership registry, executive director Chris Ahmuty said.

“We believe the laws enacted by the legislature do not violate the constitutional amendment after the referendum,” Ahmuty said.

If the Green Bay City Council supports the resolution, it would send a message to Wisconsinites that outside groups could easily enforce their agenda and moralities on elected officials, Ahmuty said.

Ahmuty said the council would appear out of step with the rest of private and public employers nationwide who support a diverse work force.

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