Wisconsin Governor Moves To Block Hospital Visitation Rights For Same-Sex Couples
The only word I can use to describe this is cruel, despicably cruel:
Madison – Gov. Scott Walker believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.
Democrats who controlled the Legislature in 2009 changed the law so that same-sex couples could sign up for domestic partnership registries with county clerks to secure some – but not all – of the rights afforded married couples.
Wisconsin Family Action sued last year in Dane County circuit court, arguing that the registries violated a 2006 amendment to the state constitution that bans gay marriage and any arrangement that is substantially similar.
Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the lawsuit, saying he agreed the new law violated the state constitution. Then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, hired Madison attorney Lester Pines to defend the state.
Walker, a Republican, replaced Doyle in January and fired Pines in March. On Friday, Walker filed a motion to stop defending the case.
“Governor Walker, in deference to the legal opinion of the attorney general that the domestic partner registry…is unconstitutional, does not believe the public interest requires a continued defense of this law,” says the brief, filed by Walker’s chief counsel, Brian Hagedorn.
Hagedorn told Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser that if he could not withdraw from the case, he would like to amend earlier filings to reflect Walker’s belief that the registries conflict with the state constitution.
Even if Walker is allowed to withdraw from the case, the law would still be defended in court because gay rights group Fair Wisconsin intervened in the case last year.
Fair Wisconsin attorney Christopher Clark said the governor’s move raises legal questions.
“It’s not clear to me that a defendant in a lawsuit… can simply walk away from a lawsuit or withdraw,” he said.
I won’t speak to the legal side of this issue because I’m not up to speed on it, but I really have to wonder what kind of person would seek to prevent two people who are in a relationship from making whatever arrangements they want to allow the other to visit them in the hospital, and what right the state has to tell hospitals that they cannot honor those requests.
Is the GOP hatred for gays so pervasive that they could really be this cold and heartless?