CHICAGO - In response to the news that Governor Walker has terminated legal firm Cullen, Weston, Pines & Bach in the case Appling v. Doyle, Lambda Legal issued the following statement from Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney in the Midwest Regional Office in Chicago:
"We remain steadfast in defending a law that is clearly constitutional. Domestic Partnerships provide basic legal acknowledgement of a relationship, and are already an important foundation for couples across the state. We fear that the Governor's action signals his intention to reverse the position of the state and no longer defend the domestic partnership law enacted by the legislature. Lambda Legal will proudly defend the rights of same-sex couples in Wisconsin; our focus on protecting people in committed relationships has not changed."
In June 2009, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed domestic partnerships into law, granting limited but important legal protections to same-sex couples, including hospital visitation and the ability to take a family medical leave to care for a sick or injured partner. Wisconsin Family Action, an antigay group, brought a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court arguing that the domestic partnership law is a violation of Wisconsin's constitutional amendment barring marriage equality. Former Governor Doyle appointed legal firm Cullen, Weston, Pines & Bach to represent the state and defend the law. In October 2010, Lambda Legal filed a motion to intervene in the case on behalf of Fair Wisconsin, the statewide LGBT advocacy group and five same-sex couples who are registered domestic partners. Yesterday, Governor Walker terminated the firm appointed by former Governor Doyle, leaving Lambda Legal as the only defense counsel in the case.
"Wisconsin has banned marriage equality and civil unions, so domestic partnerships are essential to protect our committed couples." said Katie Belanger, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin. "Over 1,500 couples have already registered as domestic partners, and we need to protect their rights."