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.


At 10:55 AM, Blogger Bill Orally said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Communitygal said...

Lest we forget, those who favor banning civil unions and marriage for gay and lesbian couples used to say they needed to amend the constitution to prevent "activist judges" from forcing it on people. They would say the will of the people, through their elected legislature, should decide this. But as soon as the California legislature passed a marriage equality bill, and the Governor Terminated it with a veto, they stopped saying the legislature should be deciding it . . . can we say "results-oriented??"

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Keith said...

Julaine and Friends ought to come clear, and answer a simple question.

"What sorts of rights and obligations SHOULD non-married couples have? Taxation? Inheritance? Health insurance? Guardianships? Pensions? Hospital visitation? Health club and golf memberships?"

They keep saying that such rights and obligations are OKAY under the amendment, as long as they're not "marriage look-alikes." But they have yet to define what is THEIR vision.

Our vision, like California's, probably is similar (substantially or not) marriage, since it isn't logical for the State to deny most of these things to any citizen and household.

But perhaps Mike can ask tonight:

"Julaine, if the amendment passes, just what should the legislature do to address the needs of these thousands of Wisconsin households?"

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Jenn said...

I too often read in blogs around Southeast WI the argument in support of the ban that it really won't change anything--after all, gay couples can have contracts drawn up to afford them all the rights they need. Ms. Appling says the same thing. What they fail to realize is that if this amendment passes it could very well take all those away.


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