Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Fair Wisconsin Votes No

Why the Civil Unions and Marriage Ban is Wrong

This is the text of the constitutional ban that Wisconsin voters will consider on November 7th:

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."

The ban has two equally significant sentences. The first sentence would permanently deny marriage rights to loving, committed gay families who live in every Wisconsin county. The second would foreclose the possibility of civil unions. It would also seriously endanger existing legal protections for all unmarried couples.

The ban will hurt real Wisconsin families

The denial of marriage hurts loving and committed lesbian and gay couples who live in every part of Wisconsin. These couples have taken on the responsibilities of marriage, yet they are denied the critical legal protections that marriage provides. The proposed constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage will make that denial of marriage permanent.

A marriage license extends over 1,000 rights, benefits, and responsibilities under federal law and nearly 200 more under Wisconsin law. These include basic things like being able to share health and retirement benefits and take bereavement leave in the case of a death in the family. Denying the important legal protections of marriage hurts real families who live in every part of the state.

The ban is extreme and far reaching

The ban goes beyond banning marriage for gay couples. It will also ban civil unions and threaten any legal protections for unmarried couples. Mainstream Christian leaders and institutions, including Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists, oppose the ban because they believe it is simply unjust.

A majority of Wisconsinites support civil unions, which could offer many of the rights of marriage to gay couples. Statewide polls have shown that around 60% of people in our state support civil unions or marriage for gay couples. If people support civil unions, they should oppose the ban.

The ban could have a far-reaching impact beyond denying civil unions and marriage.

The experience of other states that have passed similar bans provides real-life evidence. The national Human Rights Campaign has compiled a report that details far-reaching consequences in these states. For example, Ohio judges have dismissed domestic violence cases involving unmarried heterosexual couples because the victims were not married to their alleged abusers. Even though the women were not gay, the judges ruled that the state's new ban prohibits legal recognition for any unmarried couples--even when it comes to domestic violence. Because of these concerns, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence has spoken out against the ban proposed here.

In Michigan, the state attorney general ruled that the constitutional ban there overturns domestic partner policies that have been in place in some cities for years. The City of Kalamazoo recently took away health coverage that they had been offering to the domestic partners of city employees.


  1. I've posted this article from the Fair Wisconsin web site because it is clear and helpful. Our synod in assembly in 2005 voted to oppose such an amendment to the constitution in Wisconsin. It is my hope and prayer that Lutherans across Wisconsin will unite to oppose an amendment that will curtail basic civil liberties, and do harm to many families.

  2. Hi Clint,

    Thanks for speaking out about this. It's really important right now for clergy to be the vocal ones. Sometimes, us lay people can't seem to carry the same weight that you can. I hope the amendment fails, but I'm not very hopeful. I live in MN, but I can feel the momentum here.

    I stumbled across your blog. I went to seminary with you. I believe we had a total of one classes together.

  3. Thanks for posting this Clint. We will beat this amendment if folks like you keep speaking out and educating others like this.

    I did not go to seminary with you.