The following is an email I sent to friends and family in the Madison area yesterday. I decided to post it on my blog for two reasons.
First, to help spread the word and ask for support in getting the word out state-wide about this frightening amendment.
Second, as a "national" heads-up for folks outside Wisconsin to keep a careful eye for such movement in your own states and on a national level.
You can learn more about Wisconsin's proposed constitutional ban at the following blog sponsored by Action Wisconsin, http://noontheamendment.blogspot.com/
Here's the post.
Hello Madison-Area Friends and Family,
As you may know the Wisconsin legislature has re-introduced a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships. Last year, the ban handily passed in both houses, but was vetoed by Gov. Doyle. The bill has once again been introduced with the hope of moving it rapidly through the legislature and having it on the November 2006 general ballot for the citizens to vote on a constitutional change.
This is really scary stuff for our family personal and for the citizens of the state of Wisconsin in general, b/c it really sets us back in time in our state's civil rights laws and our progressive history.
While the state representatives and senators for the Madison area have pledged to vote against the constitutional ban, there are many other representatives state-wide who are prepared to vote in favor of it, both as part of "partisan politics" and out of fear of retribution from their peers and assumed fear of retribution from their constituents. The authors of this bill are also attempting to gather enough support to over-ride another veto from the governor. Lastly, if this bill passes and the governor's veto is over-ruled, it will be on the ballot in November of 2006 when many of us are headed to the polls to vote for governor, amongst other things. In Wisconsin, it only take a majority vote (51%) of the citizens to amend the state's constitution.
So, civil rights groups are asking each of us to contact friends and relatives around the state (outside of Madison particularly) to ask them to vote "no" on the constitutional ban. As our friends and allies, I would like to ask for your help in this effort. I believe that the more these legislators understand that Wisconsin's citizens do not want to actively legislate hate, perhaps this will influence their vote or at least hold them ore accountable to all of their constituents, just a vocal and destrictive minority.
If you need some information for "talking points" with friends and family, you can go to http://www.actionwisconsin.org/index.html for ideas, sample email notices and general information about the ban. Additionally, here are some of the talking points I have been using.
*Our state is continuing to face many challenges, including budget short-falls, school funding crises, loss of valuable state, county and local services. These are amongst the issues that our state legislators really need to attend and issues which impact the well-being of most of the state's citizens. Taking up valuable legislative time to deal with a ban on one group's civil rights does not show wise leadership.
*It is already illegal for gay men and lesbians (and bi folks in same gender relationships) to marry. So, actively writing this into the state's constitution is redundant legislation.
*A constitutional ban would revoke any domestic partner benefits currently offered to couples. It would also make it impossible (unless the constitution was amended again) for the state to create any civil union policies similar to those in Vermont.
*If the ban were to pass, our family would be seriously impacted financially, because the Madison Public Schools could no longer legally offer Jani domestic partner insurance. I would be uninsured and have to seek insurance, most likely out of the provider network that the rest of my family uses. Also, it is unclear if Jani could still cover Gemma under her insurance since she has legal guardianship of Gemma under a special co-guardianship process, offered only in a couple counties around the state (Dane being one of them). With Gemma's medical needs, we would be in a tough space if her parent was not legally allowed to cover her health insurance.
*In general, we would have fewer protections and Wisconsin would likely become a less safe place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people and our children. When the government openly sets "hate" legislation into place, we've seen over our history, in many other instances, that a greater intolerance for the targeted group of people can erupt. I fear for the safety and well-being of our daughters, my family and friends and other LGBT families throughout the state.
I know that many of us are busily engaged in our holiday preparations and our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, our call to action is now with getting out the word to ask for legislators state-wide to vote "no." The folks behind this legislation have craftily taken advantage of this busy time of year to move this legislation through the Senate as quickly as possible, hoping to have it pass both houses before the end of the year. So, please take a moment to write en email or have a conversation with friends and family around the state and ask them to contact their legislators.
Thank you so much in advance for you help,