A Conversation With Mitch, Northeast Field Organizer

Mitch Wallace started as a volunteer for the campaign and was recently hired to be our Northeast Field Organizer. He was born and raised in Lake Mills, Wisconsin and he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He comes to Fair Wisconsin with experience: he worked on Howard Dean's primary campaign, with America Coming Together in the 2004 Presidential race, on numerous local campaigns, and as a union organizer for the Wisconsin Education Association Council.

Why is this issue important to you?

There are many reasons I oppose this ban, but some of my strongest feelings deal with how it hurts families. I believe every family needs as many legal protections as possible; and I see this ban attacking my definition of family.

When I was 14 my mom and dad died in a car accident. Fortunately, my parents had the foresight to create a will well before their death, which was a relief to all of us. Countless members of my extended family and family friends were embarrassed to admit that they had not created such a document. They thought about seeing a lawyer to draft a will, but had not gotten around to it.

No one plans to get sick, hurt, or die, but this doesn’t stop accidents from happening everyday. When it does happen, families need all the legal protections they can get. This ban places limits on these protections for some families.

Secondly, I feel that the ban attempts to define a family based on the roles that people play instead of the love they share. I take this very personally. Following the accident, my family became very “untraditional” in our appearance, but not our feelings for each other.

My older brother Jeremy (21) and his girlfriend Melissa (21) moved to Lake Mills to care for my younger brother Spencer (2) and me. We created a family based on love and respect. Sometimes when we go places together, people give us strange looks as they attempt to figure out how the four of us fit together. By taking a superficial look, we do not fit most people’s definition of a family; however, if you look deeper into our relationship, you’ll see we have everything any other family does. When people look too much at the physical components of a family they forget to look at the emotional ties and miss the fundamental aspect of what makes a family.

Describe an average day on the job.

Drive from Appleton to Green Bay.
Respond to emails and phone messages.
Staff Conference Call.
Train a phone bank captain in Manitowoc.
Go to the Jackson Square Summer Concerts in Green Bay to collect signatures and distribute literature.
Head back to Appleton.
Meet with a supporter in Appleton.
Send a clip boarding crew to the Houdini Plaza concerts in Appleton.
Run a phone bank in Appleton.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

It’s hard keeping on top of all the various events in northeast Wisconsin. There’s so much going on up here.

Can you share a positive or inspiring experience you've had while fighting the ban?
I had just started working for Fair Wisconsin. It was a Sunday night and I was driving from Madison to Appleton for the first time to set up the office. As I was driving I called my grandma to say hi. She asked me how my new job was going and I vaguely responded that it was going well and quickly attempted to change the subject.

I had told my grandma that I got a new job, but I never told her what the job was. My grandma is 73 years old, Catholic, and has lived in rural Minnesota all her life. I wasn’t sure if she would be a supporter and I didn’t really want to find out.

I told her about the ban and Fair Wisconsin and then I asked her what she thought. She surprised me by saying that she didn’t see what all the fuss was about. If people are living their life and were not hurting anyone else, it wasn’t any business of hers or anyone else to get involved.

Since I moved to northeast Wisconsin, I have been continually surprised by who is voting “No” for one reason or another. I’ve encountered many people who I assumed would vote yes, but they have surprised me. We won’t ever know until we have those conversations and ask. When you do ask, be ready to be surprised.

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At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story and the differen ways in which a family can be impacted by this ban.


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