Updated July 2, 2009 Investigation by Mike Fitzpatrick
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Is Julaine Appling Eligible For A Domestic Partnership?
Wisconsin's Never-Married Top Anti-Gay Cop Co-Habits With College Chum “Sister”
Madison - One of the great ironies of the 2006 battle over the constitutional amendment to ban gay civil unions and marriage was that neither of the top two talking heads on the issue - Julaine Appling for, and Mike Tate against - had actually experienced the joys of matrimony. True, Tate was engaged to and later married his girlfriend (after the vote, of course - to have done so during the ballot battle would have been akin to double dipping a potato chip in the party dip).
Fast forward to 2009 and the current controversy over Governor Jim Doyle’s recent signing of the biennial budget that includes a domestic partner package offering several dozen protections to same-sex couples. Supporting the proposal in the media have been Fair Wisconsin’s Glenn Carlson and Katie Belanger, both happily hitched to their respective spouses (both male, by the way, if anyone’s keeping score). Opposing the DP registry once again is the ever-single Julaine Appling, who indicated July 2 that her “family” organization may file a court challenge to the registry in partnership with the James Dobson-founded Alliance Defense Fund.
Or so we thought. Right up until Joint Finance Committee Chair Mark Pocan (D-Madison) suggested about seven minutes into an early May debate with Julaine on the syndicated Wisconsin political gabfest “Up Front With Mike Gousha” that she did not have to have a registered relationship. “I’m not saying that Ms. Appling and her roommate have to form a domestic partnership,” Pocan said. “But if my committed partner of seven years and I want to form one... I should have that right.”
Julaine did not take the bait, opting instead to bury Pocan’s implied allegation with her 1,700 page budget document argument against the measure. However Quest will. Could the sixty-something, never-married Julaine Appling actually be eligible to register for a domestic partnership? Here’s what we discovered.
Appling owns a home in Watertown with a fellow sixty-something, never married woman named M. Diane Westphall. They purchased the home together on September 28, 2007 for $148,500 from Brian and Adrianna Hollenbeck, according to Jefferson County property tax records.
If that makes the pair guilty of anything it’s poor timing - they are the fourth couple to own the house in five years and it soared in value from its March 2002 estimate of $106,200. There’s certainly nothing in street shot of the domicile that Quest obtained which screams “Flip This House.”
However, Appling and Westphall also work together - a lot. Both are employed at the Wisconsin Family Council: Julaine as the Chief Operating Officer and most visible face of the organization and Diane as a “Project Coordinator.” Appling’s “Meet the Staff” biography is fleshed out; Westphall’s is “coming soon.” Problem is its been coming and coming and coming - ever since the new site went up, replacing the old Wisconsin Family Research Institute-monikered website months ago. We’ve been checking. Something to hide? Maybe, maybe not - as another staffer’s biography is also incomplete.
Appling and Westphall also teach at Watertown’s Maranatha Baptist Bible College. Westphall currently teaches a class in Business Communication. Appling will teach a class on National Government this Fall, a discreet semester apart.
Appling and Westphall also have worked together on a project for the Watertown-based Eternal Vision, Inc., a self-described “Ministry of Biblical Stewardship.” In the last two and a half years, the tax-exempt organization has developed 30 ministries in 17 states. It also received a million dollar gift to establish a “Wisconsin Church Planting Fund.”
Appling and Westphall worked together on a 2007 project entitled “Building Conviction For Christian Education,” authoring two articles for a supplemental information package that provides resources for pastoral teams. Appling’s article, “Walking in the Counsel, Standing in the Aisles, Sitting in the Seats,” contrasts public and Christian schools. Among this differences Appling points out is that mainstream schools’ “Human Growth and Development programs typically don’t champion abstinence, science programs... are by and large governed by the tenets of evolution... (and) the homosexual agenda is frequently not only present but pervasive...”
Westphall’s brief piece, “The Emerging Butterfly Who Lives at Your House,” talks about the many awakenings brought on by adolescence using the caterpillar-into-butterfly metaphor in part to frame the piece. (It’s not available in Spanish and hopefully translation care would be taken as a slip of the keyboard could turn that “butterfly” into Latino slang for gay).
So it is clear that Julaine and Diane are certainly more than just “two guys sitting in an ice shanty somewhere,” as she expressed last February to Judith Davidoff when Appling first complained about Doyle’s benefits proposal. But could a familial relationship rule out a possible domestic partnership? Possibly.
In the November 26, 2007 Watertown Daily Times obituary for Raymond Westphall, it is noted that “survivors include his daughters, Diane Westphall, Renée Westphall, Janet (Ben) Peterson, and Julaine Appling, all of Watertown.”
That does not appear to jibe with Appling’s official biography which notes “Julaine is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, where at the age of 5 months, she was adopted into the loving home of Bob and Mary Appling..”
Of course being an adopted child certainly does not rule out Raymond Westphall as her biological father. The senior Westphall’s obituary also noted that “From 1934 to 1941, Ray played professional baseball in the minor leagues. During World War II, 1941-1945, Ray served with honors as a T-sergeant athletic instructor in the U.S. Army Medic unit... (and) for a number of years, he was an umpire in the American Association.”
Given the era of Julaine’s conception, it is certainly possible a potentially embarrassing family secret might lurk in the discrepancy above. It certainly would inform Ms. Appling’s zeal for preserving what she perceives as “traditional families” in her current position.
But what if Julaine is a metaphorical daughter, an invited member of the family? Many people choose to include non-biological members in their families on the basis of an affectional relationship with one or more of the blood relatives. Does that make her a lesbian, something Pocan certainly might have been trying to imply with his roommate quip? Not necessarily.
According to their available biographies, another Julaine-Diane connection is that they both went to Bob Jones University. Given their ages, they possibly encountered one another on campus. Two good Baptists girls graduate and one joins her best friend back in her hometown sometime after due to their college connection? It’s certainly plausible.
So two life-long friends with similar backgrounds and values live together, work together and eventually buy a house together. It’s that 80’s TV show “Kate and Allie” without the rug rats.
And if they truly care for each other, clearly have co-mingled their assets, want to be able to visit each other in the hospital, cash each other’s checks or take care of one or the other’s final wishes and they’re not bound by blood, why not get a domestic partnership? There’s no sexual intimacy test to register for a domestic partnership in the recently-signed budget passed with the registry proposal intact. All that counts is just caring and commitment.
So, Julaine, stop complaining about it, join the majority of Wisconsinites in the recent St. Norbert/Wisconsin Public Radio poll who support Doyle’s proposal and go for a domestic partnership with Diane. Even if there is more than the apparent long-time working relationship going on, we don’t want to know about the icky parts anyway. Most people now just don’t care, which is why someday - probably sooner than you’d like - all your hard work back in 2006 will be undone.