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Clerks prepare to register same-sex partnerships

It's not marriage, but some say it's marriage-like. There will be a waiting period and a fee, but no ceremony is needed.

In a couple of weeks, same-sex couples in Wisconsin will be allowed to declare domestic partnerships and take advantage of some of the rights and benefits extended to married couples.

County clerks around the state are preparing to accept domestic partnership declaration applications starting Monday, Aug. 3.

The Domestic Partnership Law was included in the 2009-2010 state budget signed by Gov. Jim Doyle June 29. The budget also includes domestic partner benefits for state employees.

The application process, said St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell, will be similar to applying for a marriage license. At least one of the applicants must have lived in the county for 30 days or longer, both must be of the same sex and at least 18, neither may be married or in another domestic partnership, the two must share a residence, and they must not be nearer of kin than second cousins.

Applicants must apply in person and there will be a five-day waiting period. Once the application is completed and signed, it must be recorded with the county register of deeds.

Campbell said she has no idea how many same-sex couples will register partnerships locally. She said Dane County, a larger county that already recognizes domestic partnerships, has been registering about 30 a year.

Application forms will be developed by the state registrar of vital statistics.

Pierce County Clerk Jamie Feuerhelm said training for county clerks will be held toward the end of July. Those who can't attend this session may participate through a conference call.

St. Croix County will charge $100 to register a domestic partnership while Pierce County will charge $75. The fee is the same as the marriage license application fee. Twenty-five dollars of each fee will be sent to the state treasury. The rest will be kept by the county.

For more, see the July 23 print edition of the River Falls Journal.