The Stories of Fair Wisconsin

It’s been a while since I last wrote for this blog. A lot of great things have happened since then, but this week is one of the most exciting moments on our campaign.

When I took this job, I knew the civil unions and marriage ban wasn't an abstract debate about marriage. But it wasn’t until I met Lynn—who is featured in our groundbreaking, new television ad—that I truly understood just how much this ban hurts real families like hers.

Six years ago this October, my mom died of ovarian cancer, the same cancer that Lynn’s partner Jean died of. Like Jean, my mom taught middle school-- except she loved to teach reading instead of science.

The photograph of Jean and her daughter Katy is eerily similar to a picture I have of my mom and sister after my mom’s hair fell out. I think it is familiar to anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer. For me, it’s an image that touches my core and brings me back to the last few months of my mom’s life. Then, like now, I was immersed in a campaign that was all consuming.

I’ve always felt like there is an unspoken bond that exists between people who have lost someone to cancer. There is an understanding of pain and loss that you share. What made me respect Lynn so much was when we first met she didn’t want to talk about the tough stuff; she wanted to talk about how lucky she was to have a supportive community. How great Jean’s school and students had been, how so many people cooked meals and reached out to her. She talked about how lucky she was to have the support she had when dealing with such a tragedy.

When my mom was sick she always told me how lucky we were to have a great community. Her school really reached out to my sister and me, lots of people cooked dinner and supported us when she needed a stem cell transplant. We absolutely were very lucky.

But there is a reason we say we were lucky. It’s so we don’t have to talk about how awful it was. How painful it was to be there at the end, to see someone so strong and young cut down by an awful disease. There is nothing fair or lucky about cancer.

I can’t even imagine the injustice and anger Lynn must have felt. When I sat in Lynn’s house and heard her talk about her experience, I developed a deeper respect for her and what her family went through. It crystallized for me what is really at stake in November. This isn’t about the “definition of marriage” or “rights and benefits.” This is about people and their stories.

When I started work here I was told that we had to tell stories of families that would be hurt by the amendment. I didn’t really understand what that meant. Sitting in Lynn’s kitchen helped me understand what it means.

It means putting a face and a name on this issue. It means talking about how hard it is to lose a loved one to cancer. How tragic it is to lose a mother of a young child. And it means talking about the injustice of having to worry whether the hospital will let you see your loved one or make medical decisions that are very critical. And it means enduring pain and agony, stomaching the heartache and the injustice of losing the person you had planned to spend the rest of your life with and after it is all over, saying you were lucky.

Please help us keep Lynn’s story on the air through next week. We need all of Wisconsin to hear her story and more stories like hers, to show exactly what—and who—the civil unions and marriage ban is about.


At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mike, for sharing YOUR story, and how it helps you connect to Lynn and understand a little bit more what this campaign is all about. It helps us see you as more human, too, and more like everyone else in the state. As the daughter of a cancer survivor, I have an inkling of what you mean when you write about avoiding talking about the awful part.

As I see it, we all, gay and straight, have our families. No law can or will change who our families are. The voters are being asked a very deep question, though veiled in politicspeak and legalspeak. That question is: do you forever condemn families like Lynn and Jean's family to additional layers of danger, conflict, stress, fear, pain and anger in times of crisis, or do you have room in your hearts to leave the door open for these families to improve their legal standing in the eyes of third-parties, so as to relieve at least some of the additional problems that they face in times of crisis?

I believe the people of Wisconsin have good hearts. I believe we will be victorious on November 7.


At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw the ad in Milwaukee last night during the 10pm news, and thought about how the FRI insists the amendment is for protecting children and families, yet wants to be able to pick and choose WHICH families will get protection. So glad Lynn is willing to share her story to help point out how much the amendment can hurt.

In other news, the Milwaukee Courier, a free weekly covering the African-American community, has 2 pieces--a front-page article and an editorial--advocating voting "NO." They're not online, but were in the Sept. 16 issue, available in different outlets around the city.



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