Monday, April 8, 2013

Among Wisconsinites, consensus found on same-sex recognition, gun checks

Poll findings should cause us to wonder, "why can't our politicians act on bipartisan agreements?"

The figures presented below are from the latest Marquette Law School poll, which you can find here.

Several issues in the state of Wisconsin polarize the citizenry, an observation that isn't that hard to take note of. The right and the left can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on anything these days.

But on two specific issues it seems there is room for compromise -- that is, if the political establishment is willing to allow it.

On the issue of same-sex marriage, the two sides still see some disagreement. Only 17.6 percent of those who consider themselves Republicans support allowing gay and lesbian couples full marriage rights, while 64 percent of Democrats see no harm in expanding those rights to same-sex couples.

Yet when it comes to granting at least some rights, Republicans and Democrats can reach common ground. More than 36 percent of Wisconsinites who consider themselves Republican support granting civil unions to same-sex couples. In fact, only 14 percent of Republicans want to restrict gay and lesbian couples to having no legal recognition whatsoever.

That number is significant because that’s exactly what the marriage amendment of 2006 did. But today, more than half of all Republicans across the state now believe that same-sex couples deserve some or all marriage rights, a substantial leap from just seven years ago.

What’s more startling than Republicans supporting reasonable recognition rights for gays and lesbians? The fact that three-quarters of all Republicans across the state support reasonable gun measures.

On the issue of requiring gun sales to go through a background check, 75 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of Democrats support such a plan. Though only a third of Republicans want to ban “assault style weapons,” it’s still a step in the right direction to see compromise is within reach on the possibility of closing the “gun-show loophole” in the state.

Overall, more than 80 percent of Wisconsinites, regardless of political persuasion, support the idea.

So with this groundbreaking support for reasonable gun checks and at least SOME protections for same-sex couples, why can’t we pass legislation enacting laws that the people support? Perhaps it's the lawmakers who don't see eye-to-eye with their constituents, especially those who govern from the conservative side of the aisle.

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