It is not the "Defense of Marriage" amendment

Over at The Xoff Files, Bill Christofferson posted an excellent entry about the rhetoric used to describe the proposed amendment to the Wisconsin constitution.

He reflects on Julaine Appling's recent interview in WisPolitics where she calls the ban the "Defense of Marriage" amendment. Christofferson (and I, and all of you I hope) takes issue with this language. And here’s why.

It is not the "Defense of Marriage" amendment.

It is also not the “marriage amendment” or even a “gay marriage” amendment. Calling it any of these does not sufficiently describe just what this amendment is or what it would do. It would permanently ban marriage for lesbian and gay couples, yes. But it would also ban civil unions or other protections that are substantially similar to marriage.

Instead we should—we must—refer to the amendment as the “ban on civil unions and marriage.”

It doesn’t make for a pretty acronym (quite the contrary), but it does get the point across. This amendment would ban something. And it won’t just ban marriage.

It would also ban civil unions.

A majority of people in this state believe gay and lesbian couples should have access to marriage or civil unions. So it is important to call this the “ban on civil unions and marriage” for those people who aren’t yet sure about marriage equality, but don’t want to deny lesbian and gay couples civil unions.

It takes a lot of work to shape the way the public and the media talk about an issue. But we’re working on it and you can too by using this language when you talk about it with your friends and family. And letters to the editor are an especially helpful tool in getting your message across to a larger community. For help writing a letter to the editor, visit Fair Wisconsin’s advocate section of the website.

Link to The Xoff Files' blog post.

Tags: ,


At 9:07 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

Definitely need different language to describe this amendment - as I said on another blog, I'd be up for calling it the Hate amendment or the Theocracy Now amendment.

Even the "Ban on Civil Unions and Marriage" doesn't cover everything this amendment could do to us. But it's at least closer and shorter.

more comments on Appling's interview over at the It's Only Civil blog (

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Ingrid Ankerson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Ingrid Ankerson said...

(Sorry. I just accidentally deleted my own comment.)

Yes, the amendment feels hateful and it is certainly hurtful.

But remember there are thousands of Wisconsinites who don't yet know or who are just learning that this issue will likely be on the ballot.

Our opposition is out there calling it the "Defense of Marriage" amendment and talking about "preserving traditional marriage."

We’re doing a major disservice to ourselves if we decided to call it the "hate amendment" or something that doesn't describe what the amendment really is. A ban on civil unions and marriage.

We’re doing further disservice to ourselves if we all go out and each call this amendment something different. It's even important to refer to it as the “ban on civil unions and marriage” with our friends so that when they go out and talk to their friends, they also refer to the amendment with the same language.

It’s like Xoff says, “It's a technique the right wing has perfected and one the left hasn't learned.”

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Rebecca said...

My apologies if the facetious nature of my comment didn't come across.

Referring to the amendment in this manner (ban on civil unions and marriage) is the most succinct and best option we have - and it is very much that - a ban.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Keith said...


I'm afraid that even calling it the "ban on civil unions" won't work for us. Wisconsinites probably are nearly as uncomfortable with our unions and with our marriages. I vote for "UNMARRIED PARTNERS PROPERTY RIGHTS" as the tag.

This tag does a couple things.

(1) It brings strait folks' rights into the picture. People need to know that there are plenty of male-female couples whose relationships are "substantially similar to marriage" and whose legal contracts would be questioned.

(2) It re-emphasizes our main point that this is really about the economic security of our families, not about people "shacking up."

-- Keith Wildenberg, Milwaukee.


Post a Comment

<< Home

A Fair Wisconsin Votes No
Add this banner to your website