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Group plans to sue if Doyle's proposed domestic partner protections approved

A family rights' group says the state can expect a lawsuit if it approves the domestic partner protections in Gov. Jim Doyle's new state budget.

Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action believes the courts would rule them unconstitutional and her group has lawyers looking into it.

Under Doyle's plan, domestic couples would register in their home counties to get legal protections. They could get family and medical leave to care for an ill partner.

And they could make end-of-life decisions for their partners so they're not legally shut out by their partners' families.

Appling calls it a direct assault on the 2006 constitutional amendment that bans gay marriages and civil unions.

The group Fair Wisconsin says Doyle's measure would give same-sex couples 43 of the over 200 legal benefits enjoyed by married couples.

The governor says he's just trying to encourage Wisconsinites to be more decent to each other and he says his proposal has nothing to do with the anti-gay-marriage amendment.

Republicans removed domestic partner benefits for state employees from Doyle's past budgets on the grounds they had nothing to do with state spending. But the GOP no longer has a say, since it no longer controls either house.

Democratic finance co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, says Doyle's new measures have a right to be in the budget because counties would collect fees from couples who register and the state's partner benefits would cost money.