MADISON — An appeals court hearing an appeal of a Dane County judge's ruling last year that upheld Wisconsin's domestic partnership registry on Thursday asked the state Supreme Court to step in and decide the case.
The 4th District Court of Appeals wrote that it is asking the Supreme Court to decide the case because it "involves a novel constitutional issue and because a decision in this case will have statewide significance."
In June 2011, Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser ruled that the registry, which took effect on Aug. 1, 2009, does not violate the Marriage Amendment to the state's constitution, which passed in 2006.
That amendment defines marriage as being between one man and one woman and says that a legal status similar to marriage for unmarried people is not valid. The domestic partnership registry grants same-sex couples protections such as the right to visit each other in hospitals, make end-of-life decisions and inherit each other's property.
A group that includes Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, who had sued to block the registry, had appealed Moeser's decision. Fair Wisconsin, which intervened on behalf of former Gov. Jim Doyle, who was in office when the registry was created, continues to defend the registry during Appling's appeal.
Appling contends in her appeal that the registry law's domestic partnerships are similar to marriage and are prohibited by the Marriage Amendment. Fair Wisconsin contends that the rights and obligations of a domestic partnership are different from marital rights and obligations.