Domestic Partnership Registry: Oral Arguments slated before WI Supreme Court 10/23

Image“This registry is designed to do one thing – mimic marriage. In so doing, it clearly violates Wisconsin’s Constitution, the will of the voters, and the institution of marriage.  We have tenaciously championed this position as defenders of marriage and will continue to do so with all of our resources.” –WFA president, Julaine Appling

In August, 2013, Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, and 4 other Wisconsin Family Action board members, through their Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, filed their initial brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a lawsuit (Appling v Doyle) defending Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment.  The brief clearly and strongly argues that the same-sex-only, statewide domestic partnership registry signed into law in 2009 by then-governor Jim Doyle, violates the marriage amendment by creating a legal status that is at least “substantially similar” to the legal status of marriage, a clear violation of the amendment that was passed by nearly 60% of the voters in 2006.

Oral arguments for Appling v Doyle before the Wisconsin Supreme Court will take place next week on Wednesday, October 23.

(For a brief history on the court case, click HERE.)

Read Wisconsin Family Actions FAQ sheet for the Domestic Partner Registry Legal Challenge HERE.

Appling V Doyle: WI Supreme Court to weigh in on full meaning of marriage amendment

Press release from Julaine Appling, president, Wisconsin Family Action:

High court will decide whether state’s marriage-mimicking

scheme violates marriage protection amendment

MADISON, Wis. —The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on the full meaning of Wisconsin’s marriage amendment and whether it authorizes the creation of other marriage-like unions.

Last year, a state appellate court decision upheld a lower court’s ruling that said the amendment permits the state legislature to create marriage-mimicking schemes despite language in the amendment that prohibits any “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.”

Image“Marriage–the union of husband and wife–is timeless, universal, and special; and it’s the foundation of every healthy, stable society. The people of Wisconsin recognize this, and that is why they approved a constitutional amendment that specifically protects marriage from all imitators,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “The state’s domestic partnership scheme is precisely the type of marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent.”

The lawsuit, Appling v. Doyle, was filed in Dane County Circuit Court in 2010 to stop then-Gov. Jim Doyle and the state legislature from skirting the language in the voter-approved constitutional amendment protecting marriage. Appling and five other individuals who are also members of the board of directors of Wisconsin Family Action are the plaintiffs in the case.

The “domestic partnership” plan, which Doyle proposed and signed into law after passage by the Legislature as part of the 2009-11 state budget, is only available to same-sex couples. “Domestic partners” receive “declarations” instead of “marriage licenses,” but otherwise, the procedures for creating the legal status of domestic partner is virtually the same as creating the legal status of married.

In November 2006, 59 percent of Wisconsin voters approved Article 13, Section 13, of the Wisconsin Constitution, which reads, “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.” In June 2010, the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously upheld the validity of the entire amendment’s enactment.

“The bottom line is that the will of the people of Wisconsin as clearly expressed in the marriage amendment ought to be respected,” said Appling. “State officials cannot ignore a voter-approved law just because they don’t like it.”

WFA-PAC Endorses Pat Roggensack for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice

WFA-PAC Director Julaine Appling with endorsement for Patience (Pat) Roggensack for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice. Tuesday, April 2, is Wisconsin’s General Election. Vote responsibly!

Elections: The Privilege & Responsibility of Living in a Republic

Commentary from WFA president Julaine Appling:

Ok.  I know you are likely election weary; however, the privilege of living in a Republic with its representative form of government comes with the responsibility—the duty—of voting for those who represent us.

Periodic elections are a hallmark of a Republic. And a knowledgeable and responsible electorate is an absolute must if this unique form of government is going to work. And you and I as “we the people,” have the opportunity to once again be direct participants in our government by voting in the Spring Nonpartisan Primary Election this next Tuesday, February 19.  So in spite of any election weariness you may have, it’s time to shake it off, get informed, get others informed and motivated, and get to the polls.

ImageOnly one statewide race will be on your ballot next Tuesday—and that is for a seat on our state’s highest court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  We have seven justices on our high court, each serving ten-year terms, the longest term of office we have in Wisconsin.  Incumbent Justice Patience (Pat) Roggensack is running for her second ten-year term.  She is being challenged by Ed Fallone and Vince Megna. 

On Tuesday, February 19, we will be asked to vote for one of these three Supreme Court candidates.  The top two vote-getters will move on to the Spring Nonpartisan General Election on Tuesday, April 2.

Wisconsin Family Council has prepared a Candidate Information Publication on these three Supreme Court candidates.  The publication is available online at voteyourvalueswi. or by calling 888-378-7395 for print copies.  This is a strictly educational publication and is suitable for distribution in churches. 

To give you just a little information about these candidates, incumbent Pat Roggensack is the only candidate with judicial experience, having been elected to the Court of Appeals two times.  Vince Megna’s legal experience is as a private-practice attorney, specializing in Lemon Law litigation.  Ed Fallone is an Associate Professor at Marquette University Law School, where he teaches constitutional, corporate and criminal law.  He also practices with a law firm in Milwaukee, specializing in civil litigation.

In the area of why they are running and judicial philosophy, Pat Roggensack says, “I have shown that I understand the differing constitutional roles of Wisconsin’s three branches of government, and that I have fairly and impartially decided each case that has come before me, independent of outside pressures. As a justice, I have ‘called the balls and strikes,’ as the rule of law in each case has required.” 

Ed Fallone says that for “his entire career, [he] has been fighting to ensure all people have equal justice before the law,” while Vince Megna states, “We need to get reacquainted with the practice of ‘justice for all’ in Wisconsin. It’s time to bring common sense and a sense of humanity to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.”

There is more information on the Candidate Information Publication available at or by calling 888-378-7395.

While the Supreme Court race is the only statewide race on your ballot next Tuesday, you may find other local races on there—such as for school board, city council, mayor, town or village board, circuit court, or county supervisor. 

If you are a registered voter, here are three ways to find out exactly what will be on your ballot on Tuesday, February 19:  1) Call your municipal clerk and ask.  If you can’t find your clerk’s name and number, call us at 888-378-7395.  2) Go to and click on “regular voter” to follow the few, simple steps to see your sample ballot.  And 3) call us here at Wisconsin Family Council and we can look up your sample ballot.  That number is 888-378-7395.

Next Tuesday, you and I can have a direct say in who becomes a justice on our state Supreme Court—a very important decision as this court is deliberating on many cases that deal directly with marriage, family, life and liberty.  Take advantage of the privilege and responsibility you have as part of “we the people” to make sure good people get elected to represent you.  Get informed, get others informed and motivated to join you, and then go cast a knowledgeable and responsible ballot on Tuesday, February 19.

Interview With Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack

WVCY “In Focus” Host Jim Schneider interviews incumbent primary candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court Patience (Pat) Roggensack.

NOTE:  Intended for voter information and educational purposes only.  Posting of this video does not constitute endorsement.

Ducks, Marriage, and the Common Sense Cliff; Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnership Registry

Via Julaine Appling, WFA president:

The fiscal cliff rightly has us concerned. However, I think America is facing a number of cliffs right now that may be at least as important as, if not more important than, the fiscal cliff.

A recent court decision here in Wisconsin reminds me that we are about to go over the “common sense cliff.” Even judges are teetering on the edge of this cliff.  What’s so important about common sense is that this least common of all the senses centers us, grounds us to reality.  Farmers understand this. They say things like, “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and acts like a duck, then it’s a duck. Doesn’t matter what you want to call it.”

When we fall off the common sense cliff we lose our ability to think rationally and reasonably in light of the clear evidence of everyday life and reality. It’s a very dangerous cliff.

The court case I am referring to is the one I and several members of the board of directors of Wisconsin Family Action filed challenging the constitutionality of the statewide, same-sex-only domestic partnership registry that Governor Doyle and his liberal legislative cronies gave us in the 2009-2010 state budget.  At issue is whether or not a legal status that is identical to or substantially similar to marriage is constitutional.

We lost this case at the Dane County Circuit Court in June 2011, which necessitated an appeal to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.  Just this past Friday, yes, right before Christmas, the Court of Appeals issued its ruling.  The 3-judge panel who deliberated on this case said they agreed with the lower court.

When I looked at the opinion, I was struck first by what appears to me to be a total disregard for common sense.  The court basically said something is not marriage if it looks like, acts like, and sounds like marriage—it’s something different.  In this case, it’s a domestic partnership.

Here’s how this goes.  Suppose someone asked you how you know you have the legal status of citizen of the United States. Would you say you are a legal citizen because you pay taxes? Or maybe because you qualify for health care privileges? Perhaps it is because you can vote?

Or is it because you were born in the United States or, if you were born out of the country, you were born to parents who are American citizens?  Or perhaps you became a “naturalized citizen.”

If you are tracking this little exercise, you know your legal status of being a citizen of the United States has nothing to do with the benefits or duties of citizenship.  Those things come after the legal status of citizen is attained.  That’s just plain common sense.  A legal status is not defined by benefits or duties you get after you are a citizen.

Here’s another one. Are you a son or daughter of your parents because you are in their will, because you lived in their home, because you helped with the family chores?  Of course not.  You are a son or daughter of your parents because you were born to them and your legal status was determined at the time of your birth or at the time of your legal adoption.  All the other rights, benefits and responsibilities came because of your legal status. Anyone can be in your parents’ will, live in their house, and help with family chores and still not be a son or daughter of your parents.  That’s crazy. It defies common sense.

But that is exactly what the Court of Appeals said about marriage. The court maintains that because the domestic partner registry doesn’t give all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage to the domestic partners, then it’s not marriage. Never mind that the requirements for gaining the legal status of domestic partners are exactly the same for gaining the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin.  Never mind that common sense tells us that benefits and obligations come after, because of, an already-attained legal status. They don’t determine the legal status.  Honestly. If it looks like marriage, acts like marriage, sounds like marriage—it’s marriage.  No matter what the judges say.

I fear this common sense cliff we are about to fall off.  I really do.  It means we are absolutely willing to look at a duck and legally determine it is anything but a duck.  And that’s more than a little dangerous.