Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Domestic Partnership Registry Under Attack - Does the LGBT Community Have Anything To Complain About?

      Today Scott Walker,the governor of Wisconsin, has issued a brief asking to be dropped from the defense of Wisconsin's domestic partnership law because he believes that it is unconstitutional. It is claimed by Walker that the voter approved amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution bans both gay marriage and any relationship recognition similar to that institution. Naturally, the gay community is crying foul at such a flex of executive power, because it eliminates some key benefits offered by the state - such as hospital visitation rights

      But does the LGBT community really have an legitimacy to complain about this situation. Yes, they may have some legitimacy in decrying the fact that Governor Walker does not understand LGBT issues, or that he does not appreciate the trials that the gay community goes through. That being said, it does not have the high ground to complain about Walker using his executive prerogative to not defend a law. You see, the LGBT community cheered as California Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown  did not defend Proposition 8 in Court; they cheered when the Obama administration refused to defend DOMA in federal court.  Governor Walker is doing the exact same thing as the previous two, only in this case the table of who benefits are turned.

     Thats why the discussion of executive prerogative in defending laws has always been a very delicate issue for me. I see both sides, and I find myself agreeing with both sides. The side that claims you don't have to defend laws appropriately points out that these agents of the state are still enforcing the law. The other side makes a great point in stating that if we allow executive agents to selectively defend laws that it personally agrees with, the rule of law itself is threatened.

       What do you all think? Is the Wisconsin case somehow different than the California and DOMA cases? If so, how?

        In a similar vein, its interesting to note that social conservatives  have not freaked out on Governor Walker, since they were the first ones to cry foul when it came to Prop 8 and DOMA. Hypocrisy anyone?

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