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Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Wisconsin

On March 25, Attorney Tamara Packard presented a continuing legal education seminar to members of the Dane County Bar Association entitled "First Comes Windsor, Then Comes Marriage: What It Means for Wisconsin Same-Sex Couples." Packard is partner here at Pines Bach LLP, where she practices civil litigation, primarily employment. In her presentation, she discussed and analyzed last summer's United States Supreme Court decision United States v. Windsor and how that decision and its application affect same-sex couples in Wisconsin. You can download the outline here.

In Windsor, the Court found Section 3 of the 1996 Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined the terms "marriage" and "spouse" under Federal law to exclude married same-sex couples, to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. As a result of that ruling, the marriages of same-sex couples are now largely recognized by Federal authorities. This is not the case, however, as to Wisconsin authorities, resulting in a complex web where same-sex couples are married for many purposes, but not for some. Packard highlighted the key effects of this second-class treatment of the legal marriages of Wisconsin same-sex couples in a variety of practice areas, ranging from employment to litigation to death, taxes and more.

Packard graduated from Oberlin College in 1990 and from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1994, and is a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America. She has had the good fortune to be involved in recent key civil rights litigation, including defending Wisconsin's Domestic Partnership Registry, challenging the 2006 "Marriage Amendment" to the Wisconsin Constitution, and challenging the Voter ID law. She co-teaches the Sexual Orientation and the Constitution seminar at the UW Law School, and was President of the Board of Directors of the Fair Wisconsin Education Fund while Wisconsin's "Marriage Amendment" was debated and adopted. In June, Tamara and her same-sex fiancé will be legally wed.

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