Judy Trampf and Katy Heyning, one of the couples seeking to become part of the lawsuit that will determine the fate of domestic partnerships in Wisconsin.
ACLU Filed Supporting Brief on Behalf of Five Couples

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals today upheld the state’s law granting domestic partnership protections to same-sex couples.

The American Civil Liberties Union had filed an amicus brief on behalf of five couples who stood to lose crucial protections such as hospital visitation, the ability to make certain decisions about medical care and to access family medical leave if the law is overturned.

“Committed same-sex couples in Wisconsin only want the peace of mind of being able to protect and provide for each other like any other married couple,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Because they are denied the freedom to marry, these couples just wanted to hold on to the limited protections afforded to them by the domestic partnership law. To strip them of these would have been cruel and unjust.”

The law was challenged by members of Wisconsin Family Action, Inc., an anti-LGBT organization that contends that the law granted same-sex couples a substantially similar status to marriage, which is barred by the Wisconsin Constitution. The same organization originally campaigned to secure the marriage amendment’s passage, claiming at the time that domestic partnerships would not be affected.

“While domestic partnership protections don’t provide quite the same security as marriage, they are crucial for same-sex couples in times of crisis,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “We’re grateful that the court will allow these families to continue to benefit from these limited protections for their families.”

One of the couples represented by the ACLU is Katy Heyning and Judi Trampf.

“We are thrilled that the court has upheld the constitutionality of the domestic partnership law,” said Heyning. “We know the people of Wisconsin did not wish to exclude domestic partnerships when the marriage amendment was passed. We are pleased that our rights will not be taken away, and that we will still be able to make medical and legal decisions for each other. After being together for 23 years, it seems fair that we should. However, we look forward to the day when we will be able to have all of the same rights married couples now enjoy.”

In addition to Dupuis and Knight, the legal team representing the couples includes Linda Hansen, Daniel Manna and David Goroff of Foley & Lardner, LLP.

Additional information about the case, including bios of the couples and legal documents, is available at: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/appling-v-doyle-case-profile
Let's promise to learn more about AIDS and let's keep our promises.

GRACE POORE, Program Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands The 2012 World AIDS Day theme of zero discrimination cannot be achieved when the first-ever declaration of human rights in Asia consciously and deliberately denies human rights protections for LGBT people, when political leaders publicly vilify and spread prejudice against gay people, when LGBT people are accused of spreading AIDS, when murders of lesbians are ignored, when laws are used to target LGBT people. There is no such thing as one kind of discrimination. Zero discrimination has to mean ending multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, and embracing human rights protections for ALL marginalized and vulnerable people.

DAMIAN UGWU, Program Coordinator for AfricaCriminalization of same-sex relationships in Africa as well as widespread discrimination and stigmatization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people often fuels HIV infections among our communities. African governments must come to terms with the fact that no meaningful progress can be made in the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Africa without the decriminalization of homosexuality and protection of LGBT human rights.

HOSSEIN ALIZADEH, Program Coordinator for Middle East and North AfricaOver three decades after the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa "morality" and religious dogmas continue to blur public understanding of this disease. HIV/AIDS is often viewed as a divine punishment for sexually promiscuous individuals. This stereotyping forces members of at-risk communities to avoid discussion of the issue, which in turn keeps members of society in the dark and increases the danger for individuals to unknowingly be exposed to the virus. In some cases authorities manipulate the data and suggest that there is no HIV in their society. It is time for all societies to put aside prejudice and denial, and start an open and free discussion around prevention and treatment strategies.

Poster produced by UNAIDS and UNICEF, in Persian.
Source: IGLHRC: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission