Friday, November 03, 2006

FAIR Wisconsin

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a political button to wear on my coat. I've done this sort of thing several times in the past, either buttons or stickers or yard signs.

It reads, A FAIR Wisconsin votes NO. That's it. But never before have I gotten a reaction to a political statement I made like I have with this one.

One man saw me and smiled, sticking out his arm so I could see he was wearing the same button. His friend then pulled out his rainbow pendant, and said, "thank you". Over the weekend, I was in the store buying Peanut's costume when two young boys were horsing around, and one called the other a faggot. As I turned the corner to the aisle they were leaving, there were two women there, wearing rainbow pins, and looking tense. They saw my pin, and visibly relaxed, and we all shook our heads over the future felons. Today, while eating lunch at the bagel shop, one of the counter clerks walked over to my table and quietly said, I see you are wearing a FAIR Wisconsin button, are you planning to volunteer? Because we need you.

I had been thinking about volunteering, and had donated some money, but it was this last encounter that made me answer yes. It's not just about wearing the buttons or saying all the right things while having drinks with your friends. It is time to do something. The only shift I could fit in was one on election night, a get-out-the-vote drive for people who might have forgotten to stop in at the polls. I wish now that I had done more.

The constitutional ban on gay marriage in Wisconsin would not only ban gay marriage, which is currently illegal in our state as it is, but disallow civil unions and most domestic partner benefits. It is without a doubt one of the ugliest pieces of legislation I have seen come through our state. It is so very wrong on so many levels that I truly find it hard to believe that it ever got this far. Wisconsin has always had a proud tradition of progressive politics, and a decent history of protecting the civil rights of its citizens*. Anyone who knows me very well will know how proud I am to be from here, to have roots that go back 175 years in this state. It shames me that there is even a chance that this amendment might pass here.

There is no justification that can be made that makes this right. None. Don't tell me you think it is immoral, or bad for families, or whatever it is you think is wrong with extending civil rights to adult American citizens. You're wrong. You're as wrong as if you said blacks and whites shouldn't marry, that women shouldn't be able to own property, that people with brown skin should be owned by those with light skin. If you allow a athiest, heterosexual couple to get married by a judge with no mention of God, you cannot tell me that there is any good reason why two adults of the same sex cannot be married if they find someone to marry them.

Having been raised in a conservative, Republican household, I can usually see the points being made by the other side of an issue, to see the shades of gray. I know that people who disagree with me about going to war in Iraq or how the government should handle entitlement programs are not necessarily bad people, that two people can look at the same set of facts and come to different conclusions. But not in this case. And I will not apologize for judging your character on the way you see this issue.

Those of us on the left are often considered "soft" because we are known giving people the benefit of the doubt, for trying to see all sides of a complicated issue. I don't personally believe that those tendencies are character flaws. However, in this case I believe that those of us who know what is right need to take a stronger stand. This was acceptable at one time. We told people all over this country that it doesn't matter if you think blacks shouldn't be allowed to live in your town or eat at your restaurant, that it wasn't okay to hound people from their jobs for their political affiliations. It isn't ok to take rights away from a significant population of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. I didn't write a reasoned, nuanced argument here because I don't believe there is a valid argument to be made for this ban.

We vote on November 7, this Tuesday. Several other states have similar referenda on their ballots, and while they are not all as encompassing as Wisconsin's, they are all ugly in their own way. Please go. In Wisconsin, you can register at the polls-just bring your driver's license and proof of address. In Madison, you can go to the city website, punch in your address, and it will tell you where your voting station is. You can vote absentee at the city clerk's office on Saturday, Nov. 4, and from 8-5 on Monday, Nov. 6. The polls are open from 7 am until 8 pm on Tuesday. Unless you are in the hospital, there is no excuse.

Buy a button from FAIR Wisconsin, wear it proudly, and go and vote. If for no other reason, because I said so, and Big Daddy says I'm always right.

Now you're sorry about this whole posting-every-day thing, aren't you?

*Read about Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., and his wife Belle Case LaFollette to see what I'm talking about--we aren't all backwards hicks out here in the Midwest.


Andrea said...

Are you kidding re: posting every day? I love it!

And you rock--way to go on volunteering.

julia said...

Awesome. I live in MA, where gay marriage is allowed. I don't understand banning gay marriage. I've never seen any evidence that it affects hetero marriages in any way, shape or form. People should be allowed to marry whomever they love, no matter their race, creed or sexual preference.

elswhere said...

Nope. Not sorry at all.

Anonymous said...


I'm a casual reader of your blog. I enjoy your writing and think your daughter is beautiful! I rarely agree with your politics, a FAIR Wisconsin is no exception. Just a few thoughts from the other side: did a quick google, found the population census from 2000, GLBT composed approximately 1.5% of the population at the time. Not a very "significant population." Secondly, most opposition to gay marriage is based Biblically. The Bible calls homosexuality a sin. Not supporting that lifestyle logically follows. I was just sad to see that you judge my character solely based on my views on this issue. Generally, you seemed to be more open minded. All the best to you.

Carlos said...

I see we have a theologically ignorant but ever-so-pious "anonymous" concern troll posting here. Hi there!

1.5% of Wisconsin's population would be 80 thousand people; or, to put it into terms which are nationally familiar, almost as large as the population of Green Bay, Wisconsin. "Only", snort.

On the other hand, about a quarter of the American population consists of remarried divorcees. There's a one in four chance you are, concern troll. Let's look at what Jesus said in Matthew 19:9, shall we?

"And I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."

Strong stuff. And yet, although 75 million Americans are going against the direct words of Jesus -- perhaps even yourself -- you're getting pissy and prissy about an issue Jesus never talked about. Not once, concern troll.

[While you're checking -- LOL -- I'll also note that Scriptural justification was also once used against interracial marriages (Acts 17: 26-27; Deuteronomy 7:3).]

So it's pretty clear you're ignorant about your own religion, and that you're using it as a figleaf to excuse your own bigotries. This is a pretty strong sign that you lack character, concern troll.

Also, your anonymity shows you have no courage behind your convictions. (Did Shadrach in the furnace go by 'anonymous'?) Another strong sign of a lack of character, concern troll.

Looks like Carrie was right! She usually is.