Uniting Wisconsin Against the Ban

Over at Letters in Bottles, Steve Schwerbel--a self-described “member of the ragged guerilla army of conservatives in Madison,” a member of the College Republicans, and an editor at the UW-Madison conservative biweekly, The Mendota Beacon--comes out in opposition to the civil unions and marriage ban. At the same time, he talks about a potential challenge to the campaign:
The thing is, I don't really believe anyone is capable of having anything near a sane debate anymore. The two sides are too entrenched. The arguments are all there already. You either believe one, or you take the other. In fact, the two arguments use totally different language--it's impossible for them to speak at the same level.
On one level Steve is right. Some on the other side, for instance, will not even consider same-sex couples and their children to fall within a definition of family. But this doesn’t describe the majority of Wisconsinites; it doesn’t describe those who remain thus far undecided, and it likely doesn’t even describe a majority of those who currently support the ban.

Our experience every day tells us that when we talk about the civil unions and marriage ban to coworkers, to family members, to neighbors, and to friends we not only gain “No” voters who were previously undecided, but we win voters over from the opposition. The Assembly vote is confirmation. In the Assembly we picked up eight votes, four of which came from representatives who listened to the arguments, paid close attention to the language of the ban, and changed their minds.

Steve’s post is a reminder that, in order to unite Wisconsin against the ban, we’ll need to really listen to a large variety of voters’ concerns. This is a conversation--a conversation with a purpose. And I plan on not giving up on anyone without really trying.

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At 10:20 PM, Blogger Steve S said...

Thanks for the link! As a fairly libertarian-leaning Republican, I'll probably be blogging on your side more often before this is all done. I just hope for a positive, rather than negative, campaign.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Ingrid Ankerson said...

Steve, We'd love to welcome you to one of our Speakers Trainings. There, one of the things folks learn is how to refer to the amendment's supporters in a way that doesn't demean or attack them. After all, we're working every day to turn amendment supporters into amendment opponents.

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please consider this background about me, it is relevant. I have been a conservative Republican my entire adult life. I have managed Republican campaigns and raised money for Republican candidates.
I also am married and have 7 children. I am such a straight heterosexual that I am probably boring. I have not and will not watch Brokeback Mountain.
So why all that?
The proposed Defense of Marriage Amendment that is scheduled to on Wisconsin’s November ballot is an unmitigated disaster, an expensive mistake and a dangerous precedent.
Although it may have some short run advantages with the
religious right wing of the Republican party, in the medium and long
run it is foolhardy. Legislators who voted for it and defend it with the current arguments must sincerely think you and I are stupid and, we are not. My reasoning follows:
1. The proposed amendment has two parts; it is not a single
subject amendment. The proposed amendment would replace language in the state Constitution that defines marriage as being between a husband and a wife. It would state: “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.” If a citizen wanted to vote for one part but not the other, she or he is out of luck. That is singularly sloppy work runs against the tenants of citizen participation in a democracy.
2. The second section of the amendment is so vague as to defy even a reasonable person's ability to interpret. What does it mean? Look at it, read it again. The second sentence stands alone. “A legal status… for unmarried individuals.” Hell, my brother and I just signed a legal contract at a credit union to buy a used pickup truck. That is an act substantially similar to what my wife and I could do. This Amendment is nuts.
3. The vagueness of the second section will lead to millions of dollars in lawsuits, one side paid for by the taxpayers. This proposed amendment is a fiscal conservatives nightmare. Why do we have to shell out taxpayer’s money on something that is so vague as to invite lawsuits? Perhaps people voted for this because because it can lead to government grabs of private property.
A man and wife, traditionally, in Wisconsin, a joint property state, buy a home together. This proposed amendment is so vague that a government famous for taking your income such as Wisconsin, can now take the property of two sisters or two widows who buy a home together because the purchase was accomplished by an illegal partnership, two people doing something similar as married people and signing legal documents in the process. Your children and grandchildren living together but not married, cannot sign documents together for the ownership of property of child care or medical treatment. And, that is just the beginning.
This amendment, because of the second section, will be appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court. Litigating those cases alone will transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars away from our schools and out of your pockets.
4. The second section will have untold unintended consequences; I guarantee you that you will not like what happens if that becomes part of the Constitution.
5. Frankly, the second section will have unintended consequences for the economic development of the state. It will help keep talented and creative people from coming here and force others to leave. That is the last thing this state needs to do at this time.
6. You all can defend an amendment about marriage, although it does interfere with religious opportunities. It is right of the state to do so. I can defend the first section. However, there is no other rational interpretation of the second section except being mean spirited, not thinking very deeply about the legal consequences, crass political motivations or a deep hatred of people different than themselves.
7. The history of divorces, broken marriages and spousal abuse in the last 50 years has been one of steady and dramatic increase. This radical increase occurred totally without gay marriages or civil unions. Attempting to defend
marriage with this amendment is patently absurd and I sincerely think the legislators who voted for it, know it. It will do nothing to reverse the divorce and abuse trend.
8. If these people can write legislation that selects one group of people and keeps that group of people from entering legal contracts, they can do the same with other groups. I am a Protestant. I am sad to say that the primary movers behind this amendment are the religious right of the Protestant side of Christianity. Who will they target next, the Mormons, the Jehovah witnesses, the Jews, the Catholics, those who choose a civil marriage instead of a church wedding? Banning a civil union is a very tiny step from banning a civil marriage. This amendment is a very scary thing.
9. An amendment that limits the State of Wisconsin’s official definition of a marriage as being between one man and one woman at a time would not arouse my ire, the sloppy second part of this proposed amendment is shameful.
10. I have always been an independent thinker and a political activist. I often think differently than some others think; I often do things differently than others do. When will this Wisconsin Taliban target me? Or you?

Bill. McConkey

At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill - Exactly the sort of scenario you describe in point # 4 above happens. I'm a seminarian who lives in WI, and commutes to Chicago . Anyway - an acquaintance of mine is from Ohio, where this sort of ban was passed in the last election cycle. Her sibling happily voted for the ban - only to discover that the property bought with a friend (neither could afford the down-payment alone) was no longer theirs...


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