FOX47 NEWS - Domestic Partner Benefits Begin

Jeff Angileri
Aug 2, 2009, 6:10 PM

Starting August 3rd, same-sex couples in Wisconsin will be able to register with their county clerk's office to receive health and legal protections.

Mary Sykes and Judy Seymour, of Madison, are getting ready for this milestone in their relationship.

"We're planning on getting in line early in the morning," Sykes said.

The couple is just one of the expected 5,000 couples to register as domestic partners with the Dane County Clerk -- 150 are expected Monday alone.

"It's a legally prudent thing to do because we can," said Seymour. "It offers protections that we don't currently have."

Registering means same sex couples will receive dozens of health and legal benefits under state law -- including the right to hospital visits, end of life decisions, and not having to testify against his or her partner in civil court.

"This is a really big and good step towards equality," said Sykes. "But it is also far away from equality."

Under the new provision, same-sex couples would receive a total of 43 rights and benefits. Married couples in Wisconsin enjoy more than 200. Nevertheless, Mary and Judy are thrilled to register, saying it will further validate their relationship in the eyes of society.

Said Sykes, "We've built a life together and we continue to do that. Our commitment is really strong to each other and to our lives together. It only seems right to me that anyone who's doing the hard work of commitment should have some degree of recognition and protection."

A conservative group has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to stop the registries, claiming they go against the gay marriage ban. But, the State's Legislative Council disagrees.

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