Formerly Helgeland v. Wisconsin.
The ACLU sued the state of Wisconsin on behalf of six lesbian employees and their partners seeking domestic partner health insurance and family leave protections, which the state then provided only to employees and their spouses. The lawsuit charged that it violated the state constitution’s equal protection guarantees to block lesbian and gay employees, who were barred from marrying in the state, from access to the same coverage for their families.
Among the plaintiffs were several women who spent hundreds of dollars more per month because their partners had significant health problems and little or no insurance coverage. Another plaintiff was a woman who, when her partner of 20 years was injured in a car accident in another state, had to submit a formal vacation request and then wait for five days before she could go to her side.
On May 29, 2009, the trial court dismissed the case. In a lengthy decision, the court reasoned that it is unconstitutional for the state to deny benefits, but that it was bound by a Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruling from 1992. Because the state legislature passed a domestic partnership bill that provided everything sought by the plaintiffs, plaintiffs and ACLU did not appeal the trial court’s decision.