It's Only Civil

Location: Wisconsin, United States

I'm an ex-fundamentalist PK (Preacher's Kid) gone good. I live in Wisconsin with my partner of almost 5 years. We hope to be adding to our family in the near future. Currently, my hot topic of interest is the proposed constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage for gay and lesbian folks in Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin and have no interest in living anywhere else, but I feel slapped in the face almost daily by those who are pushing this amendment that could threaten all legal protections for gay families and which will affect my family personally. My blog will likely be focused on this issue - might throw in a bit of other things just for kicks though.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


What I'm grateful for today is that I am in a happy, healthy, awesome relationship with the love of my life.

The amendment cannot take that away from me.

It also cannot take away the other joy in my life - that we will be moms in another 5 or 6 months. After a very long time trying, we are finally expecting a child (or two - not sure yet).

That... is everything.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

how's it feel?

So how's it feel to wake in the morning and know your state has changed its constitution to keep your family from equal protections?

it sucks. It hurts. It feels weird and scary and very different.

See, I used to take care of my family and know that we had to worry about not having family protections and such, but now, I know that we have all the more reason to worry. Those who declared my family second-class on November 7th have the power of the constitution behind them.

Imagine the constitution being used against YOUR family.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I am finding myself with little time to keep up on this blog (obviously). Though I will try to continue to post, if you find yourself here, please do check out the website (updated more frequently) at

If the Wisconsin amendment to ban civil unions and marriage for some is a concern - check out It's Only Civil for more information and ways to be active. Be sure to check out Fair Wisconsin for action and more info, too - their blog is always up to date. :)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Octavia Butler

I went to the library today to pick up a book I had on hold - Fledgling, by Octavia Butler - and the librarian mentioned that she'd recently died.

I was stunned.

Octavia Butler is my favorite author. Never afraid to deal with tough issues of race, class, poverty, violence and war, difference and discrimination and in the genre of sci fi, Butler is - was - an incredibly talented author and someone I would have loved to meet.

(for those who don't like sci fi - Butler's sci fi is not the standard alien worlds and interplanetary travel, so try it!)

The world has lost something. Her words will live on, but her presence and the work she would have done will be missed.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sunday morning debate

I just caught the debate over the constitutional ban on civil unions, marriage and other protections for gay couples on Channel 3 this morning.

Joshua Freker from Fair Wisconsin and Rev. Curt Anderson from Christians for Equality did a good job, I thought. It was refreshing to see a discussion/debate and not a portrayal of only one side with nobody to answer until the following week or some such thing.

There was contentious argument about this amendment hurting real people in Wisconsin, which I'm glad didn't go too far - I couldn't believe that Appling, from the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin actually started an argument over who gets hurt worse by this amendment. (Her example was a couple who owns a business who doesn't want to be forced to provide health benefits to couples they don't support - I'd be curious to know more about this couple and their business and actually how many gay and lesbian people they have on their payroll, cause I'm guessing it's not many. As an aside, large companies have repeatedly found economic benefit in providing these type of benefits to families of all their employees - as someone who has domestic partner health benefits thru an employer, I can attest to the kind of loyalty that helps to encourage, despite the fact that the benefits are legally required by the IRS to be unequal.) In the face of stories about partners of 30 years being kept from one another during times of serious health crisis, Appling brings up this example of a situation that isn't even possible at any foreseeable point right now - the amendment would endanger all legal protections for gay and lesbian couples. We are hardly at a place where the state would be requiring all companies to provide equal benefits!

At any rate, nice job, Josh and Pastor Curt!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I hate gays more than you do! nyah, nyah, nyah

James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, has endorsed a “Reciprocal Beneficiaries” bill in the state of Colorado. This is a bill that that would grant to certain people who cannot legally marry many of the legal rights currently reserved for married couples. These rights would include property-sharing, decision- making powers over funerals and organ donations and, possibly, health-care policy benefits. (By the way, this bill is actually being proposed in response to legislation that would grant domestic partnership status and rights to gay and lesbian couples in Colorado - legislation that would provide more rights that the "Reciprocal Beneficiaries" bill would)

The bill specifically does not name gay and lesbian couples as eligible for this, but they would, in theory be able to acquire several of the rights that are currently reserved for solely heterosexual couples. (talk about special rights!)

Paul Cameron, from the Family Research Institute, has criticized Dobson for supporting ‘gay rights’ and the two apparently continue to trade arguments, defensive responses and jabs (including a jab at Cameron by Dobson in which Dobson said Cameron “calls himself a researcher” – an interesting jab as Dobson relies on Cameron’s debunked research to push his anti-gay anything agenda and as Cameron has been thoroughly debunked and kicked out of the APA for improper research techniques. For more information on this, see the Cameron Fact Sheet and this report)

So who hates gays more?

Dobson has said “I don't believe that homosexuals should be denied a job. I don't believe that they should not be able to buy a house. I don't believe that they should not have the same rights everybody else does.” However, his actions show pretty much the complete opposite of these words and he and his organization have lead fights against rights of nearly any form for gay people and their families, including boycotts of privately held companies which extend domestic partner health benefits to their employees.

Cameron, on the same hand, has been so virulent in his efforts against gay people and families (going as far as to advocate marking people with AIDS with tattoos and considering extermination of gays an option), that he can’t even tolerate this type of legislation because it might provide a few rights to gay and lesbian couples, too. The rights granted would not include the over 1100 federal rights and responsibilities or even most of the state rights reserved for heterosexual couples (in Wisconsin there are close to 200 state rights and responsibilities associated with marriage), but Cameron believes that even those that would be allowed under this bill are too many.

And here in Wisconsin? Thanks to the second sentence, the proposed amendment to the state constitution that will be on the ballot in November would permanently deny even this type of law that Colorado is considering.

And the major state-wide organization supporting the ban on marriage and civil unions and other legal protections for gay and lesbian couples in Wisconsin? Family Research Institute of Wisconsin. Associated with Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, it bears the same name as Cameron's organization, though I could find no claim of direct affiliation with Family Research Institute and Paul Cameron. I have to wonder where Appling would come down on this question.

Regardless, all of them have made it clear that they do not believe gay and lesbian couples, no matter how long they have been together, how devoted they are, how much care and responsibility they have taken on for one another, should be allowed any rights or recognition whatsoever. And if the proposed amendment were to pass here in Wisconsin, we would be facing a situation where even a bill that Dobson could support would be illegal.

And if it were to pass, I doubt that FRI of Wisconsin and their ilk would be stopping there. If Appling objects to that insinuation, then she should publicly support the protection of domestic partner benefits and at least some family rights for we who already take on all the responsibilities of marriage with none of the legal protections.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Assembly considers the Ban...

I received word from several sources that the state assembly is expected to vote on the ban on civil unions and marriage for gay couples today.

(for up to date happenings, see the NoOnTheAmendment blog)

As much as I try to maintain a positive attitude and outlook and not gripe publicly about how it feels to have my family targeted in this way, I’m just not there today so this is my snipey response:

One of the sources was the legislative notification email I received. It stated:

You requested to be notified of the following legislative activities:
Proposal: AJR-67 (05-4116)
Bill History:
Relating to: providing that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recogniz...
AJR-67 was reported out of committee on Judiciary in the Assembly on February 23, 2006 AJR-67 was referred to committee on Rules in the Assembly on February 23, 2006
AJR-67 was referred to the Assembly calendar of February 28, 2006

Yes, I requested…

But it would be so much more truthful if they announced it by saying something like

"AJR-67, the change to the constitution that targets your family, will be on the calendar for debate and voting February 28, 2006.

Please be advised that numerous people will be debating your right to care for your family, to be cared for by those you choose, to be recognized as a family, and to be afforded even minimal legal protections as a family. Several people will talk about you and your family without knowing you in the least and will say things that have no remote connection to your life. Others will make declarations about how this amendment won’t affect you in the ways you fear in order to make those who support it feel less guilty for harming your family. They will focus on the word "marriage", since that's a more emotion-laden word, and ignore the ban on civil unions and the threat to all other legal protections for you and yours.

As you requested to be notified of activity on this bill, you will be notified when the vote is done of exactly how many people in this body stood up for freedom and equality and against discrimination in our Constitution."

In some small way, that would at least feel more honest to me.

I’m going to take my exhausted self to work now. But thanks for listening. And please consider the real impact this is having and will have, if passed, on real people in our state.

contact your representatives today and tell them to do the right thing and VOTE NO!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Senator Fitzgerald claims... and I reply...

I wrote this at the time Senator Fitzgerald published this blog entry over at Boots & Sabers and originally published it at It's Only Civil. That was before I had a blog. So being that I have one now, I'm republishing it here...

In his column (the exact same thing printed in the forum page of the Wi State Journal also), Fitzgerald constantly refers to "protecting traditional marriage". Yet there is no move on the part of anyone in the state legislature to protect traditional marriage from divorce, adultery, reality TV shows, etc. In addition, denying civil unions or domestic partnerships and threatening all legal protections for gay families, as the second sentence would do, does not in any way protect "traditional marriage".

He says that Wisconsin had this debate forced on us.

Marriage is under attack by activist judges from out of state who want to impose their extreme liberal views on the people of Wisconsin, and we must defend our laws and our traditions.
Because of a 2003 ruling by the Massachusetts State Supreme Court invalidating that state’s statutory prohibition against same sex marriage, any state that does not define marriage as a union between one man and one woman included in their state constitution could be forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts, regardless of whether or not those states already have laws on the books to limit marriage to a union between one man and one woman.

Actually, federal law already makes it clear that marriages from Massachusetts will not have to be recognized by other states or by the federal government. Wisconsin WILL NOT be forced to recognize those marriages (imagine, though, finally being married to the person you love and are devoted to and crossing a political line and suddenly being strangers to one another...).

And again, I have to say "activist judges" really seems to mean judges who rule in ways that the speaker does not like. (As for "liberal" - of the 7 judges ruling in the Massachusetts case, 6 had been appointed by Republican governors.)

Fitzgerald goes on to claim that

Public opinion, both in Wisconsin and throughout the country, is overwhelmingly supportive of defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Truthfully, public opinion in Wisconsin has the majority opposed to "marriage" for gay couples - however, the majority in Wisconsin actually favor legal protections for these families, something this amendment would forever ban or threaten.

Fitzgerald says "Critics of our efforts have attacked this proposal on a number of fronts, but their arguments don’t hold up to scrutiny."

Funny, we say the same thing about arguments from amendment supporters.

He goes on:
The proposed constitutional amendment would not prohibit state or local governments or a private entity from setting up a legal construct to provide privileges or benefits such as health insurance benefits, pension benefits, joint tax return filing or hospital visitation to same-sex or unmarried couples.
Even Fitzgerald has admitted that the ambiguity of the second sentence invites court interpretation and interference with currently offered benefits for gay and lesbian couples as well as with any future consideration of benefits or status. The history of these amendments in other states show clearly that they are a threat even to current benefits provided to gay and lesbian couples. In addition, Fitzgerald and the senate republicans refused to allow clarifying language to be added that would have protected even current laws providing minimal benefits for gay and lesbian families.

In saying that the current Wisconsin law is not strong enough, Fitzgerald says:
Like Wisconsin, Massachusetts had a statutory ban on same-sex marriage, but a single court ruling wiped that law off the books and legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts. A similar ruling by our state Supreme Court would do the same here. An amendment to the Wisconsin constitution is the only sure-fire way to preserve marriage here and protect our traditions from attacks by activist judges and local officials in other states.
In other words, the constitution, as is, might require equality. Therefore, the only sure-fire way to make sure gay and lesbian families are never considered equal or substantially similar to equal, is to change the constitution, thereby bypassing the judicial review of the constitutionality of our current laws.

And again, the actions of judges and local officials in other states do not affect the legality of civil unions or domestic partnerships or marriage here in Wisconsin.

According to Fitzgerald:
Marriage is one of the fundamental bedrocks of our society and deserves to be preserved as a union between one man and one woman. The people of Wisconsin have spoken through their state legislators that they want traditional marriage protected. (linked comment added)
Actually, though Fitzgerald believes that the public has already spoken, they have not. This amendment is about more than just marriage - it will affect legal rights and responsibilities of all kinds for gay and lesbian families in Wisconsin - rights and status that can be acquired no other way but thru civil union or marriage. As people learn about the full effect of the amendment on Wisconsin families, I believe Wisconsin's belief in fairness will win out and the public will vote NO.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Coretta Scott King

This morning I heard of the death of Coretta Scott King.

The gay and lesbian community has lost a friend, to be sure. (quote on It's Only Civil)

But the greater loss, besides to her family and close friends, is to the larger quest for equality for all. King served our country and world well and with grace. She brought us closer to where we should be in our move toward peace and equality.

I hope those of us who do the work now will make her proud.

Thank you, Coretta. We will miss your presence.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The threat revealed...

It's been said over at No On the Amendment and on Marc Pocan's site, but it bears repeating - the evidence is clear that this is no mere "defense of marriage" amendment - this is a move to permanently deny legal protections and other benefits of any type to gay and lesbian families - it's not about marriage, it's about gay people and some folks who don't like who we are or who we love.

Appling, the director of Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, may couch her support of the amendment in language of defense of an institution and tradition and say that it's not about denying gay people rights, but it is. And she made that clear in a recent State Journal article when she came out as opposed to the dental insurance program for state employees being opened to domestic partners - at absolutely zero cost to the taxpayer.

The program as it stands allows an employee to purchase - completely at their own expense and with no tax benefit whatsoever - dental insurance for their partner.

The comments by Appling and by Rep. Gottlieb make it the intent behind the amendment clear:

If they can't even sit still for gay couples being allowed to purchase dental insurance out of their own pockets for their families, then this is about more than a "defense of marriage". I hope they at least have the integrity to drop the evasive language and be honest about what they know to be a threat to all current and potential future protections for gay families...