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"Marriage is unique in that it is an enforceable contract to which the state is a party," Crooks wrote.

Democratic lawmakers enacted the registry that provides limited benefits to same sex couples in 2009, three years after Wisconsin voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

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hear arguments in the state's appeal on Aug. 26. More than 500 couples married in a weeklong window before the judge's decision was put on hold. Many of those couples had already registered as domestic partners.

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MILWAUKEE Wisconsin's domestic partner registry does not violate the state's ban on gay marriage, the state Supreme Court said Thursday in a unanimous decision that gay rights activists hailed Womens Air Max 90 Pink

Appling said that while she was disappointed the court disagreed with her regarding the registry's similarity to marriage, she was pleased it recognized marriage as a special institution. She also noted that it didn't question the gay marriage ban.

as an important but intermediate step in legalizing same sex marriage.

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and enjoy many more rights.

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The state Supreme Court ruled in a 2010 lawsuit filed by Julaine Appling, the head of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action. She said the domestic partner registry violated the state ban on same sex marriages and anything substantially similar.

In the five years since, Wisconsin and the nation have seen "a monumental shift in marriage equality," said Katie Belanger, president and CEO of Fair Wisconsin, the state's largest gay rights organization. The group intervened in the case to defend the registry after Gov. Van Hollen, both Republicans, refused to do so. Circuit Court of Appeals plans to Nike Air Max 90 Mid Sneakerboot

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Todd Kinsman (left) and Ravi Manghnani hug after getting married in Madison, a day after the ban on same sex marriage was struck down.(Photo: AP/Wisconsin State Journal, Amber Arnold, File)

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Writing for the court, Justice N. Patrick Crooks also said domestic partnership is not the same as marriage, in which spouses have a legal obligation to support each other financially Nike Air Max 90 Sneakerboot Ice

"What's important in light of what the court issued today is that the court recognized that marriage remains one man and one woman in Wisconsin," she said.

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Court upholds Wisconsin domestic partner registry

But the court said lawmakers and voters who backed the amendment did not mean to bar legislation granting certain rights to same sex couples. The court pointed to legislative documents and lawmakers' news releases as evidence of this, along with an article Appling wrote in 2005 that said the amendment wouldn't "ban civil unions."

A Dane County judge and state appeals Air Max 90 Yeezy court both previously upheld the registry, which gives listed couples a host of legal rights, including the ability to visit each other in hospitals and make end of life decisions.

Thursday's decision provides important protection for those couples until gay marriage is legalized, Belanger said. But, she added, "Now that this case has come to an end, we are excited to move forward on reaching our ultimate goals of full equality for the entire LGBT community, including marriage equality."

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Van Hollen, the state's top lawyer, said that despite the Supreme Court's decision, he still believes the registry is unconstitutional and not defending it was the right choice.

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