Rainbow Law has a document package designed to protect same-sex partners in Wisconsin. We offer 9 unique Affordable Document Packages, Individual Legal Documents and FREE Advance Directives to help protect your rights and the rights of your family. To order a legal document package that complies with Wisconsin law, hover your mouse over the “Buy A Package” link in the top menu and click on the package that best suits your needs in the drop-down list. If you’re not sure what package is right for you, click this link and we’ll help you figure out what you need.
Although the US Supreme Court has held that the federal government cannot discriminate against gay and lesbian couples legally married and living in a state that recognizes that marriage, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) couples living in Wisconsin are not legally recognized as spouses even if they were married in a marriage equality state or country.
Here is a run-down on Wisconsin law affecting the LGBTQ community:
1 Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: Same-sex marriages, civil unions and other statuses considered “identical or substantially similar” to marriage are banned by an amendment to the state constitution enacted by popular vote in 2006.
Wisconsin maintains a registry of domestic partnerships that provide same-sex couples with limited rights, specifically 43 of the more than 200 spousal rights afforded different-sex couples. The registry, Chapter 770, was established in 2009 by a provision included in the state’s biennial budget bill and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. Wisconsin’s domestic partnership registry for same-sex couples does not grant two-parent adoptions. Wisconsin was the first state in the Midwest to enact a form of recognition for same-sex unions. Out of the several states that have bans on same-sex marriage and civil unions, Wisconsin was the first and only one to enact limited domestic partnerships.
The registry has survived an ongoing court challenge that claims it violates the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting the creation of a legal status “similar to that of marriage” for same-sex couples.
Wisconsin has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2009. In some jurisdictions, domestic partnership benefits for state employees have been expanded beyond those rights provided to other employees under the state’s domestic partnership registry.
2 Adoption Law: Wisconsin law bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in all public accommodations. The statute explicitly includes adoption rights Wisconsin’s domestic partner registry does not grant parental rights, but same-sex couples may attain limited rights through a co-parenting agreement or another legal arrangement granted by state courts.
All Wisconsinites may adopt as individuals and LGBT individuals have been granted joint adoption rights by certain jurisdictions. Second-parent adoption is not legal.Adoption agencies in Wisconsin will ensure that once a spouse in a same-sex relationship attains parental rights the other spouse receives comparable parental rights or full guardianship.
Domestic partner benefits for state employees ensure that the dependents of one partner are covered by the other partner’s health insurance.
3 Anti-Discrimination Law: In 1982 Wisconsin was the first state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, education, credit and all public accommodations. When Republican Gov. Lee S. Dreyfus signed the law, he said that “It is a fundamental tenet of the Republican Party that government ought not intrude in the private lives of individuals where no state purpose is served, and there is nothing more private or intimate than who you live with and who you love.” There are no state-level laws against discrimination based on gender identity. Milwaukee and Madison ban discrimination based on gender identity.
Wisconsin hate crimes law punishes violence based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity. Although gender identity is not explicitly included in Wisconsin’s hate crime legislation, perceived sexual orientation is often used as a medium to prosecute individuals whom act based on gender identity. In 2001, Wisconsin legislators passed a law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in any school setting.
4 Sodomy Law: In 1983, Wisconsin legalized private, non-commercial acts of sodomy between consenting adults. In order to obtain sufficient votes among legislators, the bill stated that Wisconsin did not approve of “any sexual conduct outside of the institution of marriage.”
5Gender Identity: Wisconsin allows a person born in the state who has completed sex-reassignment surgery to amend his or her birth certificate once documentation of the surgery and of a change of name is provided.
A 2005 Wisconsin statute denying hormone therapy to prisoners undergoing sexual reassignment, the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act, was ruled unconstitutional in a unanimous opinion in the case of Fields v. Smith by a three-judge panel of United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on August 5, 2011. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the state’s appeal of that decision on March 26, 2012.
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