Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.
What ever happened to No means No?
Voters overwhelmingly said NO to gay marriage and ammended the state constitution to protect our state.
Gov. Doyle ignored that by including a special union prevision in the budget.
Legal Gay marriage by any other name is still legal gay marriage, Governor.
Doyle says domestic partner proposal does not violate marriage amendment Feb 23 2009
Madison - Gov. Jim Doyle said his budget proposal to allow domestic partner registrations in Wisconsin wouldn't establish relationships that resemble marriage but would simply give same-sex couples some basic legal protections.
"These are pretty common-sense rights that would come to people on the registry," Doyle said. "They're just a way we can be a little more decent."
Nonetheless, some say Doyle's plan would create a legal status that approximates marriage - something that's not allowed under a constitutional amendment approved by 59% of Wisconsin voters in 2006.
"This was not even a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the amendment . . . it's a direct assault," said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, which advocated for the amendment as the Family Research Institute.
The amendment banned same-sex marriage as well as any legal status identical or substantially similar to marriage, such as a civil union.
In the budget he proposed last week, Doyle called for offering limited legal protections for same-sex couples, such as allowing domestic partners to take family and medical leave to care for a seriously ill partner, make end-of-life decisions and add health care coverage.
Couples would apply for a declaration of domestic partnership with their county of residence and would pay a fee for processing the paperwork, much like the way other vital records are administered.
Partnerships could be dissolved through a termination process at the county clerk's office.
"These are critical benefits that same-sex couples do need to have to take care of each other," said Katie Belanger, legislative director for Fair Wisconsin, which advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, said he expects the domestic partner proposal to be part of the budget debate.
In past sessions, discussion of domestic partner benefits has been removed from the budget because of the limited fiscal impact. But Doyle's proposal would collect fees from couples who are registering and would cover benefits for state employees.
"There's clearly a fiscal impact," Pocan said.
Legal challenge likely
Appling said the proposal so resembles marriage that she believes it would be challenged in court if it were to become law, and would likely not pass constitutional muster. Her group has already contacted attorneys to evaluate the proposal.
"He's purporting to create a legal status that is similar to marriage," said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a nonprofit legal firm in Scottsdale, Ariz., that says it promotes religious freedom. "The bill does violate and run afoul of the Wisconsin marriage amendment."
Fair Wisconsin said Doyle's proposal would extend to same-sex couples 43 of the more than 200 rights and benefits given to married couples under the law.
"We're confident it's not substantially similar," Belanger said.
A handful of other states offer domestic partnerships, Fair Wisconsin said. Oregon has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage but allows domestic partnerships, Belanger said.
Doyle's plan would only allow domestic partner registrations for same-sex couples who are 18 or older, are not married or in another domestic partnership, share a common residence, and are not nearer kin than second cousins.
Aaron Sherer, board president for Fair Wisconsin and director of a museum in Oshkosh, said he and his partner of 10 years have a young child and a foster child and are in the process of planning their estates and wills. He said they wonder how they'll be able to make decisions to best care for each other and their family without protections for their relationship in place.
"These are just some fair and basic assurances that any committed couple should have," Sherer said. "You'd like to know that should a crisis arise and you really need to take action to care for your family."
Doyle also called for extending domestic partner benefits to state employees, including the University of Wisconsin System. The university has long argued Wisconsin was at a competitive disadvantage to schools that offer such benefits.
Two years ago, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated that providing domestic partner benefits to state employees would cost $7.6 million to $15.2 million a year.
Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, legislative sponsor of the marriage amendment, said given the state's $5.7 billion deficit and budget cuts Doyle has proposed, "it makes you wonder if this is the appropriate time to do this."
Pocan said the state stands to lose more if researchers and others at the UW System leave - taking valuable research and grant dollars with them - because the state doesn't provide domestic partner benefits.
"The ultimate cost is really on the other end - what we lose when we lose talented people at the university and in state government," he said.
Benefits account for a huge percentage of our payrolls. Gov Doyle just increased that expenditure with this provision by extending benefits to gay partners and live in hetero mates.