Sunday Papers Still Abuzz with Ban Debate

We're still seeing lots of attention to the civil unions and marriage ban on the opinion pages of Wisconsin newspapers.

In the weekend Superior Telegram army veteran Angie Nichols asks, among many other relevant questions, why the children of gay couples should have less legal protection than the children of non-gay couples.
According to the 2000 census report, same-sex couples are raising children in at least 96 percent of all counties in the nation, and gay and lesbian couples live in every county in the state of Wisconsin. At least one out of three lesbian couples and one out of five gay male couples are raising children nationwide. These children need the same protections as other kids.

Gay families like mine are minding their own business, paying taxes, contributing to their communities and caring for each other. Why should we be frozen out of any hope of legal protections that would make our families more secure?
Two pieces attempt to answer these questions.

Charyl Zehfus uses most of her space in the Sheboygan Press to argue that we should support the ban because we should oppose gay parenting. She claims that the existing studies are inconclusive: “open homosexual couples have not been raising children to adulthood long enough to provide comprehensive, definitive data.” (The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a national organization devoted to improving adoption policy and practice, recently found otherwise.)

Zehfus's piece is more or less what we've seen before. She relies on widely debunked Stanley Kurtz data, and she ends with a classic scare tactic, implying that a single Dutch radical has become the spokesman for gay people all over the world.

Mark Fielding Sevelis's guest op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel avoids some of the usual rhetoric seen in arguments like Zehfus’s. He disagrees with her about gay parenting: “there is sympathy and compassion for gay couples who adopt and nurture children.” He avoids the phrase “activist judge” and instead warns his readers of a “liberal, fair-minded, progressive majority” on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

And he writes, "I bear no animosity toward couples who happen to be gay. As a matter of fact, a close relative is gay. If I had a gay couple as neighbors, I would more likely defend them from less tolerant people than me."

As part of a strategy to stake out the middle ground, he attempts to isolate ban opposition to "the editorial boards of the Journal Sentinel and Madison newspapers." (Apparently, he's not familiar with editorials against the ban from papers in communities such as Marshfield and Baraboo.)

He concludes by declaring he’d rather abolish all marriage than allow gay couples a civil marriage license, which he considers "profane":
Gay couples in Wisconsin have my sympathy and understanding. If their relationships are strong, they will endure and prosper like mine has. If not, they can just part ways; no messy divorce necessary. With patience, most of what they seek they eventually will have. Marriage will not be one of them.

If it is in the sake of fairness and equal justice for all, I would rather dissolve the institution of marriage for all--straight and gay--than exchange the sacred for the profane to allow gay marriage in Wisconsin.

No one since Adam ever said that life is fair or without discrimination.
Neither Zehfus nor Sevelis mention the ban’s second sentence, and their pieces therefore make no argument against civil unions.

There’s a fourth op-ed too. But the story it tells is rich enough for its own post. . . . Stay tuned.

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At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Steve said...

No one since Adam ever said that life is fair or without discrimination.

But it's the rare American who would say we shouldn't strive to make it so. This guy needs a lesson in patriotism. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

He may strike a moderate tone, but his position is radical and extreme. He'd sooner give up his own marriage than see a gay relationship legally recognized. That's some mighty strong stuff. And it's flat-out un-American.


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