Same-sex couples in Wisconsin are signing up for the state's new domestic partnership registery.
This new law has given gay couples many of the same legal protections as husbands and wives. Protections include the right to visit a partner in a health care facility and the right to a partner's estate sans will.
Researchers have estimated between 1,400 and 5,100 same-sex couples will register in the first year, based on U.S. Census Bureau figures showing 14,000 same-sex couples in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin became the first Midwestern state to enact protections for gay and lesbian couples through legislation. The governor proposed the idea and the Democratic-controlled state legislature approved it in the state budget.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said the law he helped write provides a model for other states that have similar bans but want to offer protections to same-sex couples. He plans to register with his longtime partner soon.
"It's really significant there was little resistance in the Legislature," he said. "The public understands the need for these protections."
However, opponents are trying to get the law invalidated by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. They say it conflicts with the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage.