Do we even pretend to have such a thing as separation of church and state these days? The Madison (WI) Capital-Times:
An Arizona-based Christian group that provides legal help to fight same-sex marriage and similar causes asked Wednesday that the Wisconsin Legislature be made a co-defendant in a lawsuit seeking benefits for gay partners of state workers.
Six lesbian workers in the University of Wisconsin System and the Corrections and Transportation departments filed the lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court in April. The American Civil Liberties Union is backing them.
The lawsuit alleges a state law preventing state employees’ gay partners from getting health benefits violates the Wisconsin Constitution’s equal rights protection clause. It asks a judge to force state agencies to provide the benefits. Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager is defending the state.
The Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Legislative Organization voted in May to ask the Alliance Defense Fund in Scottsdale, Ariz., to represent the Wisconsin Legislature in the lawsuit.
The ADF motion argued that the Legislature has an interest in whether benefits are extended to gay workers’ partners, because it would put more pressure on a state already dealing with a $1.6 billion budget deficit. The motion also said establishing budgets and social policy is a legislative prerogative.
So the Legislature thinks it might be on the hook for same-sex partner benefits. But rather than rely on the Attorney General, who is sworn to uphold the interests of the state, they turn to a bigots’ advocacy group. What happened to the tolerant Badger State I grew up in?
Just in case we’re unclear as to who’s behind this:
ADF’s co-founder, James Dobson, created a media stir earlier this year for criticizing a children’s video that featured cartoon characters, including Spongebob Squarepants, saying it promoted homosexuality.
The AG’s office calls this one exactly right:
Lautenschlager spokesman Scot Ross issued a statement saying the ADF was the one trying to inject politics into the case.
“It will be up to a judge to decide what, other than political venom, these Internet lawyers from the other side of the continent would bring to a Wisconsin courtroom,” Ross said.