Friday, February 14, 2014

This Valentine's Day, commit to supporting same-sex marriage rights in Wisconsin

Constitutional restrictions on marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples should be overturned

Several states, including many so-called “red” states, have recently had their bans on same-sex marriage overturned by federal lawsuits. Though many of these cases have appeals yet to be heard, it’s clear that the tide of change is trending towards acceptance and even celebration of marriage rights nationwide for gay and lesbian couples.

Wisconsin itself has a ban on same-sex marriage, passed by voters in 2006 in a constitutional referendum. Although 59 percent of the state approved of the ban (in a non-presidential election year), more than half of the state’s residents now support extending the right to marry for same-sex couples, according to polling done late last year.

Wisconsinites are starting to understand: there is no harm created in allowing these marriages to occur. The justifications against extending these rights to these couples are without merit, and to deny this recognition is truly an injustice that needs to be remedied.

This week, Democratic lawmakers sought to repeal the ban by introducing a proposal to repeal the 2006 constitutional amendment. They do so without much possibility of success: they are the minority party in the legislature, and Republicans have made no indication of wanting to change their platform to one of accepting gay and lesbian couples’ marriages as valid in the state. But on this Valentine’s Day, it’s still an important move to make.

Repeal of the constitutional ban will come one of two separate ways: either the law will be found unconstitutional by federal courts, or the state of Wisconsin itself can overturn the ban without the need for judicial intervention. For a state with a motto of “Forward,” it should be a no-brainer -- we shouldn’t have to wait for the courts to decide for us. We should decide for ourselves, repeal the ban, and allow same-sex marriages to occur within our borders.

The Republicans in the legislature should support a positive change to the state constitution. If they don’t, they should be rightly replaced with lawmakers who will.

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