Domestic Partnerships in the Heartland


Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle passed legislation in signing the state budget that legalized registration for domestic partnerships for same-sex couples in Wisconsin. The budget granted dozens of legal privileges to gay couples, including inheritance of property outside of a written will, visitation rights while checked into a hospital and a slew of other protections already available to heterosexual married couples.

The law went into effect Monday as the first trove of legally partnered gay and lesbian Wisconsin couples received recognition from the state registry. Some waited during the wee hours of the morning, in the rain, until the doors of the county offices opened for the chance to register to for some of the rights afforded to their hetero counterparts. This included 20 couples from the state's most populated county, Milwaukee County.

Gay marriage is still banned in Wisconsin, which is estimated to be home to roughly 14,000 gay couples.

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