Wisconsin cuts benefits for employee domestic partnerships

MADISON, Wisc. — The state of Wisconsin is eliminating domestic partner benefits for state employees in the newest budget, local media reported on Monday.

From The Cap Times:

State Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said the provisions eliminating laws enacted to provide gay public employees with a measure of marriage equality are consistent with measures enacted since Republicans took control of state government.

“If you look at it both as an attack on the LGBT community and an attack on state employees, neither of those things are surprising given the record of this administration and this Legislature,” he said.

The domestic partnership program, signed into law by former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, has provided health insurance and survivor benefits for domestic partners of local government and state employees since 2010. But Walker, a Republican, who nixed the program in his executive budget last spring, maintained that with the 2014 legalization of gay marriage in the state, domestic partnership provisions are redundant. Walker’s budget also removed domestic partners as a default beneficiary for supplemental retirement savings if an individual’s partner dies.

Walker’s budget estimated the moves would generate $6.8 million in savings.

The newspaper reported that the state legislature’s budget committee also banned communities from offering domestic partnership benefits or adding registrants to the state registry. A spokesman for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the measure is supposed steer employees towards marriage.

“I think it is certainly a slap in the face to the LGBT community to take away this guarantee of certain legal benefits at a time when Republicans in the Legislature and Gov. Walker have not been willing to guarantee marriage equality in state law other than as required by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Spreitzer told The Cap Times.