New Jersey Ruling

If you haven’t yet heard, today the New Jersey Supreme Court has asked their legislature to work on a solution to provide equal rights and responsibilities to gay couples.

Unlike Wisconsin, New Jersey does not have a state statute defining marriage as between a husband and wife, and they have a long track record of expanding rights for gay people, so the decision is not entirely unexpected. (The Wisconsin courts, on the other hand, have in recent years ruled against second-parent adoption and domestic partner benefits.)

What does all this mean for Wisconsin? Basically, nothing. We’re having a very different debate than what’s going on in Jersey.

We’re facing a far-reaching and punitive ballot proposal that would hurt Wisconsin families. What’s on our ballot is not about whether we will legalize marriage or civil unions for gay families. It's about whether we should constitutionally deny it for generations, even as a matter for lawmakers to consider. And the measure here would go a step further and could actually take away existing rights.

Our opponents will try to use this decision to scare people with their claims of "activist judges," but it's ridiculous to say that because a court rules one way in New Jersey that Wisconsin automatically follows.

Some of our opponents, like Rep. Mark Gundrum, will even outright lie about what's happening. (Gundrum’s statement and Mike Tate’s response.)

We can't let our opponents change our focus.

We have narrowed the gap, people understand what's truly at stake in Wisconsin, and we are about to turn out thousands of "no" voters across the state.

Now get out there and help us get out the "no" vote!


At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

New Jersey and Wisconsin really are light years apart from one another on this issue, legally speaking. In 2004, the New Jersey legislature created "Domestic Partnerships" which provide same-sex couples with some of the legal rights and responsibilities straight couples get through marriage. There were extensive and strong pronouncements in that legislation about how it was not only good for those families, but good for society and the state as a whole, to provide those kinds of protections within committed long-term relationships.

This express public policy was extremely important to the New Jersey Court in reaching its decision. And, of course, the Wisconsin legislature has said nothing like it.

Whether you like the decision or not, it was based on a myriad of legal factors, most of which simply are not present in Wisconsin. Different states are addressing the issue differently, based on their own culture, laws, and history.

Tamara Packard

At 6:12 PM, Anonymous keith said...

Can you provide us some "talking points" on the Gundrum news release? It's really quite bizarre, especially the bit about the ACLU and Wisconsin Supreme Court conspiring.

Mike's response just says that there is no such litigation going on. But what is it that Gundrum is refering to? He can't just be making stuff up out of thin air. Or is that what the YES folks have resorted to?

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Peter said...

It's absolutely true that the "vote yes" side will try to wage an intense fear campaign in the next two weeks to sway people to their side. After all, fear is all they have to attempt to legitimize their cause in the first place. You'll hear the term "activist judges" more in the next ten days than many of us probably will for the rest of our lives. And "activist judges" is a lie, too, because this court was simply reflecting the will of New Jersey: fifty-five percent of residents in that state already supported same-sex unions.

DO NOT LET FEAR MONGERING steal this from us. Counter it with a message of compassion and sensibility. Stress that rejecting this ban is the only good move for Wisconsin. And, above all else, point out what the other side is trying to do. People don't like to be manipulated, and if we call out this fear campaign, it won't work.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Peter said...

Proof that Rep. Mark Gundrum lied about the New Jersey decision:

“Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state [New Jersey], the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution.” -New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin, Oct. 25, 2006

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because NJ is dumb enough to allow gay marriage, don't think that WI will follow suit.

Your efforts will be defeated in November. I know of hundreds of people in Milwaukee alone who are planning on voting "YES".

You are fighting a lost cause battle.

At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Kate said...

I get frustrated by this talk that distinguishes the legislators (acting at the "will of the people") and judges (who impose their will upon an unsuspecting populace.) Even leaving aside the fact that legislators often act in ways those who elect them would disagree with, didn't we all learn in Middle School that there are three branches of government: executive, legislative and...judicical! These three branches act as checks on one another. And we ask--and empower--judges, those who have studied and practiced the law their entire adult lives, to interpret our laws when they are unclear or disputed. That is a judge's job. I respect that: judges have a hard job and take that job very seriously. It's terrible to use a tactic that makes a people afraid of its judges.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Remember that judges are elected in Wisconsin.

At 8:45 AM, Anonymous keith said...

Looks like George W Bush is on the side of the New Jersey decision. And surely he supports our Wisconsin efforts, too.

Bush, like most of the American people, believes that gay and lesbian folk ought to have the same rights and obligations as others. He, again like most of America, just wants to preserve "marriage" for strait couples.

"I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so. I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others." - President George W Bush.

Unfortunately, folks like Gundrum, and like our "anonymous" detractor a few posts above, are pretending that sensible talk about civil unions, rights, and obligations is somehow talk about "marriage."

Hopefully the media are not so stupid as Gundrum and Anon.

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Unfortunately, the national media hasn't gotten it right either. Miles O'Brien this morning on CNN's American Morning said something to the effect of "The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriages must be allowed the same rights as heterosexual marriages." I'm not really sure what he was talking about, and I think he probably confused a lot of people. Brian Williams, however, stated the ruling in a clearer manner last night on NBC news.


At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's absolutely nothing unsensible (is that a word?) about gay couples wanting to get married...and frankly, I'm tired of having even people on our side act as though is it. Perhaps what we really mean by "sensible" is "comfortable."

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Russ said...

Without an amendment there is no question the Wiscosnsin Supreme Court may do exactly what the Massachusetts Supreme Court did.

I, and probably almost all Wisconsinites, have no problem with two conscenting adults living together in any manner they choose.

On the other hand I'm certain a majority of Wisconsin taxpayers have a big problem with paying for health care and survivor retirement benefits to unmarried couples.

The purpose of married family benefits are to allow one spouse to stay at home and the raise children. family benefits were never intended for childless adults, gay or straight, living together.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a taxpayer, I have a huge problem with paying for health care and disability insurance for people who, if they were able to have insurance through their non-marital partner, would not be a burden on the taxpayers.

What part of family values do you not understand? All families count. Vote no.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger David Schowengerdt said...

sounds russ would like all gay people to live a lie and enter into a soulless, miserable marriage with someone of the opposite sex. clearly a good environment for couples and children.

At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Jill said...

All 7 judges agreed that equal protection under the laws means that the state can't provide benefits and privileges to some people and deny it to others. What else could equal protection mean?

We only "need" the amendment if Wisconsin no longer means what it says in the Constitution about equal protection. I believe with all my heart that Wisconsinites believe in treating people equally.

At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The decision in the case is posted on the New Jersey Supreme Court website at I encourage people to read the ruling for themselves. Scroll down to Wednesday, October 25, the case is Lewis v. Harris. There's a lot in there for every American to agree with in terms of equality and fairness.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russ, I think if you look at what marriage benefits are "for" historically, you'll find it's a lot more complicated (and confusing!) than just providing for one spouse to stay home and raise kids.

The truth is, many married couples are childless. Even more are empty-nesters. And the vast majority of households are those in which two adults work.

We don't extend benfits based on demographics: "You don't have kids, so you don't get all the benfits that come with marriage." (We provide for those kinds of questions on our tax returns, but separately from the marriage question.) It's wrong to say "you don't fit--you're not who marriage was made for." We don't say it to childess couples or empty nesters or wives who work outside the home. We shouldn't change the constitution to allow for saying it to gays and lesbians.

That's why we must vote no on November 7.


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