WI Attorney General Won’t Do What Obama Adminstration Must – Defend the Law

WI Attorney General Won’t Do What Obama Adminstration Must – Defend the Law

August 22, 2009 Featured LGBT News Marriage Equality 2

ObamaThe Wisconsin Attorney General, J. B. Van Hollen, has stated that he will not defend the legislatures domestic partnership law in filings seeking to overturn it.  The republican Attorney General feels the legislation, which provides hospital visitation and inheritance protections to same-sex couples, is a violation of the Wisconsin Constitution which holds that no relationship between same-sex couples can be recognized in Wisconsin which is “similar to” marriage.

I’ve often argued that language such as that in Wisconsin’s Constitution is overly broad and can result in the denial of benefits under estate law and medical decision.  For more on that, please read this post and this post.  But that isn’t the issue here.

The problem is that the Wisconsin Attorney General is violating his responsibility to defend the legislation enacted by the legislature against legal challenges and; thus, he should be fired.


Perhaps the real issue is that the Obama Administration, in spite of its claims that it must defend such legislation, doesn’t really have to do so.  If the Wisconsin attorney general can choose not to defend the state in lawsuits filed against it, shouldn’t the Obama Administration be able to make that same choice?

But instead the Obama Administration has chosen to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a piece of legislation Obama himself has called unconstitutional.  Why?  They claim it is because the Administration (by way of the U.S. Attorney General’s office) must defend enacted legislation from legal challenges.

See:  National Briefing – Midwest – Wisconsin – Attorney General Rebuffs Gay Rights Law – NYTimes.com.

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2 Responses

  1. Jude says:

    As a Wisconsin resident and pro-gay rights human being, I feel compelled to say something. The new domestic partnership law gives same sex couples 43 out of 200 rights. That doesn't sound similar to marriage to me, especially when there are no tax benefits. That sounds 21.5% similar. Not to mention groups that pushed the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage went on record as saying they would not oppose domestic partnerships. I think they will lose. There is talk that the Wisconsin Supreme Court may reject even hearing the case since, gasp, the law was made by the legislature and not "activist judges".

    Mr. Van Hollen is a Republican and is representing his own point of view rather than doing his job. And since his job does not require him to break the law or harm anyone, I do not see any ethical or legal grounds for his refusal.

    I am so sorry Jim Doyle will not run again for governor. I think he has been great.

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