wisconsin capitol
Press Release
August 20, 2009

Van Hollen Plays Politics with Flip-Flop on Domestic Partner Protections

Complete Opposite' of Van Hollen Statements During 2006 Campaign

“The Legislature or the governing body of a political subdivision or local governmental unit is not precluded from authorizing or requiring that a right or benefit traditionally associated with marriage be extended to two or more unmarried individuals; for example, family health insurance benefits, certain probate rights, or the ability to file joint tax returns.”  — JB Van Hollen, 11/29/2005

“But it’s also clear that if elected [my opponent] intends to interpret the laws as she sees fit instead of executing the role of attorney general.” — JB Van Hollen, 11/29/2005

MADISON, Wis. — One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross issued the following statements following Attorney General JB Van Hollen’s flip-flop on the right of the legislature to authorize basic legal protections, such as hospital visitation rights, for domestic partners.

“Attorney General JB Van Hollen is a right-wing legal activist who uses his taxpayer-financed office to serve his partisan political agenda. This abrupt flip flop on domestic partner benefits that he insisted during his campaign for Attorney General were legal, is the latest abuse of his office which includes his partisan lawsuit filed for the Republican Party of Wisconsin to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters in 2008. Candidate Van Hollen promised that domestic partner protections were legal. Candidate Van Hollen promised he’d defend the state of Wisconsin. Attorney General Van Hollen has broken both of those promises.”

A copy of the press release in which Van Hollen made the above statements is included below.

Van Hollen Campaign: Falk’s Pro-Gay Marriage Letter Inaccurate and Contradictory
11/29/2005

FALK: DAZED AND CONFUSED

(MADISON) — Attorney General candidate and former U.S. Attorney JB Van Hollen today said a letter from Kathleen Falk, on official Dane County letterhead, to legislative leaders opposing the sanctity of marriage constitutional amendment is both inaccurate and contradictory.

Falk, a recently announced candidate for attorney general, today sent a letter to legislative committee chairs Representative Mark Gundrum and Senator Dave Zien opposing AJR 67/SJR 53 stating the proposed amendment “threatens domestic partner benefits which have been bargained by our unions and Dane County for years.”

A Jan. 29, 2004 memorandum from the Wisconsin Legislative Council to Representative Gundrum regarding language that recognizes marriage as between one man and one woman contradicts her letter.

“Is this the kind of insightful analysis Kathleen Falk says she’ll bring to the office of attorney general; flawed analysis and pandering to the far left?” Van Hollen said. “It’s clear that Falk favors same sex marriage. But it’s also clear that if elected she intends to interpret the laws as she sees fit instead of executing the role of attorney general.”

Page two of the Jan. 29, 2004, Wisconsin Legislative Council memo addresses the issue Falk raises:

Regarding conferring a right or benefit of marriage, it appears reasonable to interpret the proposed language as follows:

1. The Legislature or the governing body of a political subdivision or local governmental unit is not precluded from authorizing or requiring that a right or benefit traditionally associated with marriage be extended to two or more unmarried individuals; for example, family health insurance benefits, certain probate rights, or the ability to file joint tax returns.

Van Hollen said the Falk letter also contradicts itself by claiming the amendment is “unnecessary” because Wisconsin statutes are clear on this issue of same sex marriage, but her letter goes on to state if the law is clarified as a constitutional amendment it will “threaten” local governments’ ability offer domestic partner benefits.

“There should be no ambiguity in the law. A constitutional amendment is needed to ensure the Massachusetts ruling is not replicated in Wisconsin,” Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen won a straw poll of Republican voters conducted at the 2005 Republican Party of Wisconsin Convention where he received nearly 84 percent of the vote over his primary opponent, Paul Bucher, who received just 16 percent.

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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