Capital Times Feature on Young Voters & the Ban
Today's Capital Times features an in-depth look at youth and student organizing against the ban:
Accompanying the article is a Rob Zaleski column profiling Fair Wisconsin Madison field organizer Jennifer Knox, who just happened to knock on Zaleski's door during a recent canvass:
It is this demographic - the young adult vote - that amendment opponents say could be the deciding factor in November.
"I think it will be the swing vote," says Mike Tate, campaign manager for Fair Wisconsin, the main statewide group fighting the amendment.
Tate says Wisconsin students have traditionally turned out in force to vote. Student turnout in the 2004 presidential election, he notes, was the second highest in the nation.
Kathy Cramer Walsh, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says many of the students energized by the 2004 presidential election are still around and active in liberal causes.
Walsh agrees that students could swing the election.
"I think the campus vote statewide will be the deciding factor," she says.
More encouraging yet, most of the undecided individuals she's encountered - and it's a fairly high percentage, she says - have allowed her to explain that this is "more than just a gay marriage ban" and that the amendment's language would jeopardize any form of legal protection for unmarried couples, whether gay or straight.
It certainly could be possible if Fair Wisconsin's other canvassers are as poised and articulate as Knox, whose resume suggests this is a young woman who's going places: A member of the National Honor Society at West and a Dean's List scholar at the UW; winner of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wisconsin's 2002 "Youth of the Year" award; a volunteer for Wisconsin Public Television; former chairwoman of the finance committee for Associated Students of Madison; and coordinator of the UW-Madison's nonpartisan Vote 2004 Coalition.
(Her father, Isadore Knox, is the District 13 alderman and director of the Dane County Office of Equal Opportunity. Her mother, Cheryl Knox, works for the state Department of Corrections.)
Knox says she heard about Fair Wisconsin from a student government cohort, Pabitra Benjamin, and that she decided to get involved after learning just how divisive the constitutional amendment is and how harmful it could be to her many gay friends on campus.