He said he will uphold the will of the people in defining marriage.
A decision not to defend a bad law is good news for marriage supporters in Wisconsin.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen — who ordinarily would defend a duly-enacted law — announced Friday he will not defend the state’s domestic-partner law from a legal challenge brought by a pro-family group.
Under that law, which passed the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Jim Doyle earlier this year, same-sex couples began applying for domestic-partnership recognition this month. Wisconsin Family Action has asked that the registry be declared unconstitutional under the 2006 amendment that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Julaine Appling, chief executive officer of Wisconsin Family Action, said Van Hollen took a strong position when he said he would not disregard the constitution or the will of the people by defending the registry.
“What J.B. Van Hollen was saying was that his oath of office is to defend the constitution,” she said, “not the Legislature and not the governor.”
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is representing Wisconsin Family Action in the suit. They’re arguing that the process and fees for registering as a domestic partnership are similar to marriage and violate the constitutional amendment that says marriage is only between a man and woman.
Jim Campbell, legal counsel for ADF, said he hopes the Wisconsin Supreme Court takes note of Van Hollen’s position.
“We believe that it’s very clear here. The people of Wisconsin said that they do not want the government creating anything that is substantially similar to marriage, and that is exactly what they’ve done here,” he said.
Campbell would like to see the state’s high court strike down the law.
“It would set good precedent for other states,” he said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read Focus on the Family’s position on marriage.