State prepares for same-sex benefit registration - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

State prepares for same-sex benefit registration


MADISON (WKOW) --  On August third, same-sex couples in Wisconsin are eligible for the first time for dozens of legal benefits.

It's part of the recently passed state budget. Wisconsin is the first state in the Midwest to allow these domestic partnership protections.

Anna and Stacie have been together for twelve years. They say any increased recognition by the state, is a start.

The two will go to the County Clerk's office after August third to register for the domestic partnership benefits. But with the couple's two kids, they say legalities become complicated. They've already sat down with lawyers and prepared numerous legal documents, giving eachother and their kids benefits both before and after death.

Stacie says, "We had to go to court to get Anna to have any kind of rights to make decisions for the kids, hospital visitation, even her ability to attend parent teacher conferences, or pick them up from school."

The quick turn around of the legal benefits has local lawyers on their toes.

Emily Dudak Taylor, a lawyer with the Law Center for Children and Families in Madison, says, "The first step was wading through the 600 page document, to see exactly what benefits are conveyed."

43 of the 200 benefits included in a legal marriage are provided. Some of those benefits give partners the ability to inherit from an estate without a will, some medical and visitation rights, even the opportunity to choose whether or not to donate organs.

Dudak Taylor says she'll continue to work for more rights for her clients. She's looking to the federal government for more action. She says these Wisconsin rights aren't substantially similar to marriage, but "it's a step forward, but it's nothing close to marriage."

In Dane County, registration will cost 115 dollars. You will need a valid birth certificate and proof of identification.

For more information on this, click on the links to the left of this story.

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