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Alliance Defending Freedom: The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Thursday that state law, while affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman, also permits separate domestic partnerships for same-sex couples even though a voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibits any “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.” The high court’s decision upholds a 2012 decision from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
Aaron Loundenslager at The Badger Herald: Members of Wisconsin Family Action, who are challenging the constitutionality of the domestic partnership law, are being represented by attorneys with the conservative nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom. Not only is Wisconsin’s domestic partnership constitutional, groups such as ADF and WFA, whose proclaimed purpose is, among other things, to protect the “sanctity of … marriage,” ironically erode the “sanctity of marriage” by opposing domestic partnerships and marriage equality. It is time for WFA and ADF to face the inevitability of domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages and fully embrace marriage equality.
Isthmus: On the issue of severability, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson asked whether the law would be constitutional if the requirement that domestic partners be same-sex couples were struck down, along with the prohibition against close relatives forming such a partnership. “I believe it likely would be,” responded attorney Austin R. Nimocks, who is representing the plaintiffs in Appling v. Doyle. In other words, he argues that it would be legal for rights and benefits to be provided to domestic partner relationships as long as those partnerships are not sex-specific; they could include such domestic pairings as two sisters who live together. That way, says Nimocks, the status of legal marriage would be preserved. “The [same-sex] relationship in and of itself would not be marriage-like, and that is what is important to make things constitutional,” says Nimocks, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit organization based in Scottsdale.
Lisa Neff at Wisconsin Gazette: On the opposing side, a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom, representing a group of Republican legislators, told the justices that if they allowed marriage “to be a genderless institution, there is no longer an inherent link between procreation and marriage.”
WSAU.com: Their attorney, Austin Nimocks with the Alliance Defending Freedom, told justices Wednesday that the registry is unconstitutional because the requirements to form a same-sex domestic partnership mirror those for getting married. Nimocks argument centered largely on the fact that the registry has age, gender, and family-relationship restrictions, which are all similar to the requirements for marriage. “This case is not about benefits. This case is rather about chapter 770 mimicking marriage’s blueprint,” Nimocks said in court.
Wiseye.org: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Julaine K. Appling, et al. v. Scott Walker, et al. on October 23, 2013 at the state Capitol. In this case, the Supreme Court interprets the meaning of a constitutional amendment ratified by voters. Specifically, the issue presented is whether Wis. Stat. ch. 770, the domestic partnership law, violates Art. XIII, § 13 of the Wisconsin Constitution.
WI: State Supreme Court hints it may strike down part of domestic partnership law | Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: But Austin Nimocks, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued domestic partnerships mirror marriages and thus aren’t allowed under a 2006 amendment to the state constitution that bans gay marriage and any “legal status identical or substantially similar to marriage.” What makes the partnerships unconstitutional are not the benefits that are given but the legal status they confer on same-sex couples, he said. If gay couples were able to retain that legal status, legislators in the future could change the law to give them relationships that were “one benefit short of marriage,” he contended.
Bloomberg: “We are asking the court to declare the law unconstitutional in its entirety,” taxpayers’ lawyer Austin Nimocks told the judges today. The domestic partnership law can’t be saved by striking only parts of it, said Nimocks, an attorney the with Scottsdale, Arizona-based organization Alliance Defending Freedom.
Charisma News: “Society should protect and strengthen marriage, not undermine it,”says ADF senior counsel Austin R. Nimocks, the attorney for the case. “The people of Wisconsin recognize this, and that is precisely the reason they approved a constitutional amendment that protects marriage from all imitators. The intent of the voters here is unmistakable. It is clear that state’s ‘domestic partnership’ scheme is exactly the kind of marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent.”
Wis. Supreme Court to hear arguments on legal unions imitating marriage | Alliance Defending Freedom
Wisconsin Gazette: “The lifelong, faithful union of a man and a woman is 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 ADF attorney Austin R. Nimocks. “We are appealing the appellate court’s decision because this domestic partnership scheme is precisely the type of marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent.”
Journal-Sentinel: On Tuesday, the Alliance Defending Freedom announced it and other groups had petitioned the high court to hear an appeal of the December ruling. “We are appealing the appellate court’s decision because this domestic partnership schemed is precisely the type of o marriage imitation that the voters intended to prevent,” said Austin Nimucks, senior counsel with ADF in Washington, D.C. . . . Fair Wisconsin Executive Director Katie Belanger said, “It is disappointing that the plaintiffs and the Alliance Defending Freedom are continuing their efforts to take away important legal protections from same-sex couples and their families.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys representing Wisconsin taxpayers asked the state Supreme Court Tuesday to weigh in on the full meaning of Wisconsin’s marriage amendment and whether it authorizes the creation of other marriage-like unions.