Wisconsin's domestic partnership registry is constitutional, a state appeals court ruled in a decision released Friday that marks a major victory for the state's largest gay rights group.
The 4th District Court of Appeals' opinion concluded that voters didn't intend to prohibit the creation of the registry when they amended the Wisconsin Constitution to ban gay marriage, adding that domestic partnerships carry substantially fewer rights and obligations than married couples enjoy.
Democratic lawmakers created the registry in 2009. Same-sex couples who join it are afforded a host of legal rights, including the right to visit each other in hospitals and make end-of-life decisions for one another. About 1,800 couples were on the registry at the end of 2011, according to the latest data from the state Department of Health Services.