2017 | Week of June 19 | #1208
Domestic partnership registries undermine marriage. That’s why smart conservatives oppose them. Some will say that’s narrow-minded. Others will allege that’s archaic. Regardless of the allegations, the reality is domestic partnerships are not marriage. While mimicking marriage, in important ways they differ from marriage and should not be afforded government recognition or sanction.
In 2009, then-Governor Jim Doyle, aided by his liberal progressive legislative allies, created and approved two domestic partnership registries as a part of our state’s budget.
One registry, known as the Chapter 40 registry, is available to individuals who are members of Wisconsin Retirement System, which includes state employees and some local employees whose municipalities are part of this system. Anyone who qualifies, whether in a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship, can apply.
Essentially, this domestic partnership registry allows the domestic partner of a state employee to get health insurance and few other goodies provided by Wisconsin’s generous taxpayers. In state-produced publications and websites, the wording invariably includes a note that these are “benefits….that were previously only available to members’ spouses,” which basically highlights the undermining of marriage that this registry does. A state employee has precious little incentive, at least financially, to marry as a result of this registry. In addition to undermining marriage, this domestic partnership registry costs taxpayers a considerable amount of money.
The other domestic partnership registry created in the 2009 budget is the statewide same-sex-only registry. This registry is chapter 770 of our state statutes. Advocates for this registry claimed that because same-sex couples couldn’t get married, they should still have formal legal recognition and many of the same benefits of married couples. After all, love is love, you know.
June 26, 2015, that argument went away. On that day five unelected, unaccountable justices on the US Supreme Court said the votes of the people in over 30 states and the will of state legislatures didn’t matter. With a wave of their magic judicial wand, they functionally forced same-sex marriage on all fifty states. This totally wrong, unconstitutional decision means this same-sex only statewide domestic partnership registry is now not just unnecessary, but is actually discriminatory against heterosexual couples who would like some legal recognition and some of the benefits of marriage without the obligations of marriage, along with being able to dissolve a partnership by signing an affidavit versus getting a divorce.
Marriage is a unique institution and as such benefits society in numerous important ways; domestic partnerships do not benefit society like marriage does. That’s why both registries need to go. Government needs to promote marriage, not find or keep ways to make it easier for people not to marry.
Consider just two benefits of marriage—and that is how good marriage is for children. Social science research shows unequivocally that the very best environment for children is for them to be brought up in the home of their married dad and mom. To experience any other family structure is to invite a host of negative consequences for children—from poor academic performance, to poverty, from substance abuse to criminal activity and more. Because children truly are Wisconsin’s future, it is very definitely in our best interest to have more children living with their married dad and mom.
The second benefit is that the very best wealth producing entity we have is marriage. When our marriage rates are good, Wisconsin’s economic situation is improved. Don’t believe it? Visit our website at wifamilycouncil.org and click on the “State of the Family” slide on the home page.
All of the above is why I am pleased beyond measure that both registries are scheduled to become obsolete when the state’s new budget passes. Both registries came in through the state budget, and it’s very appropriate that both registries go away through the state budget. The reasons key people are supporting getting rid of these registries varies, and frankly I don’t care what their reasons are. I know that stopping the registries, even though existing partnerships will be grand-fathered in, gives marriage a better position in Wisconsin and that’s really good for The Badger State.
For Wisconsin Family Council, I’m Julaine Appling, reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.