WI Supreme Court to Consider Municipality Intervention in Domestic Partner Benefits Case

February 23, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court said it would decide if municipalities can intervene in a case between the state and state employees over the state's refusal to extend health benefits to domestic partners, the Associated Press reported.

The employees sued the state in 2005, contending that the state’s denial of benefits for domestic partners of employees violates the equal protection clause of the constitution, the wire service reported.

The municipalities, represented by the First Freedoms Foundation, say they should be able to intervene in the case because they could sustain a substantial financial blow if the state loses. They are hoping to overturn a September appeals court decision that said the Department of Justice was adequately handling the case, and that the Legislature nor the municipalities needed to weigh in.

State Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager issued an advisory opinion in December 2006 that said the state’s ban on same-sex marriage shows that “neither the Legislature nor the people intended to invalidate domestic partnerships when they adopted the provision,” and that the ban does not mean employers should stop providing domestic partner benefits (See WI Ban on Gay Marriage Does not Stop Partner Benefits ).

According to the AP, Governor Jim Doyle is pushing to change the state law to provide benefits for state employees’ same- and opposite-sex partners, which, if passed, would nullify the suit.