Meanwhile, Elsewhere in the Land
California's Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed into law a bill allowing gay couples to file jointly for their state income taxes. The bill gives those in registered domestic partnerships the same choices and filing options currently available to married couples (which includes not being taxed at higher rates).
In the preamble to the bill, California's legislature made its intentions clear:
It is the policy of the state to provide all caring and committed couples, regardless of their sex or sexual orientation, the opportunity to obtain essential rights and to assume corresponding responsibilities, and to further the state's compelling interests in promoting stable and lasting family relationships in this state by affording comprehensive protections under state law.I can't help but notice that the domestic partner status in California is "substantially similar" to marriage.
Those who support the ban in Wisconsin like to say that it doesn't prevent our legislature from enacting piecemeal protections for gay families. In the abstract this all sounds good, but when you look at actual legislation, the farce becomes clear. Only through a series of logical leaps could anyone argue that California's bipartisan bill would pass any constitutional test created by our amendment's second sentence.
This is in part because to enable certain rights to domestic partners, it's likely the Wisconsin legislature would create a domestic partner registry to make sure couples are legitimately committed, share financial resources, etc. It's this kind of status--regardless of how many rights come with it--that is likely to be unconstitutional under a two-sentence constitutional amendment.