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.

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.