The Gov. Jim Doyle-approved “everything but marriage” rights kick off today, with the registry officially open for business. (Actually, gays will receive 43 of the 200-ish rights provided by marriage, apparently.) This, despite a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, proving contradictory sentiments are alive and well in the northwest.
“We plan on being very busy,” said Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph J. Czarnezki. “We ask if there is a line they just be patient. This is as new to us as it is to them.”
Dane County Clerk Robert Ohlsen is borrowing county employees from other departments to help. Volunteers from Fair Wisconsin, the state’s largest gay rights group, will also be on hand to help couples register and celebrate the first gay rights law passed in Wisconsin since 1982.
Researchers have estimated between 1,400 and 5,100 same-sex couples will register in the first year, based on U.S. Census Bureau figures showing 14,000 same-sex couples in Wisconsin.
Few will technically join the registry this week. Couples must wait five days before receiving a copy of the certificate unless they pay an extra fee. Then, they must sign it in front of a notary and file it with the register of deeds. The document will be forwarded to the state’s vital records office, which will maintain the statewide database.
So what type of folks are signing up? Folks like these two (pictured above), who are in exercise in the ridiculous marriage laws of these United States.
Madison resident Bob Klebba and his partner of 11 years, David Waugh, are heading to the Dane County Clerk’s Office Monday morning to sign up for the state’s new domestic partner registry.
They were married last summer in California before that state passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. So while their marriage is legal in California, it is not recognized in Wisconsin, which also passed a constitutional ban in 2006.
That’s why the couple has mixed feelings about the benefits provided by the registry, when compared to a legal marriage.
“For us personally, we are taking one step backward by signing up,” Klebba says. “The registry allows the authorities to recognize us as lesser citizens and not to recognize us for what we truly are … a married couple.”