Thursday, June 5, 2014

An open letter to Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen

Van Hollen should rescind his request for a stay in the court's decision on the state's ban of same-sex marriage

Dear Sir,

You are in a very unique position this year. You have decided not to seek re-election to the office you hold. Though bittersweet, I’m sure, it affords you an opportunity that is rare in politics today: to act without electoral consequences.

That’s why I was disappointed to hear of your plans to request a stay in the legal case against the state’s ban on marriage equality. You expect the state to lose this case, and so you understandably requested that the effects of its loss be placed on hold while you plan an appeal.

Should our ban be proven unconstitutional in federal court, however, we should let that decision stand rather than appeal, for the ban has been a stain on our state's law books for as long as its been in place.

As a straight and married man living in Wisconsin, I can assure you that the ban on marriage equality plays no role in my life whatsoever. My marriage isn’t threatened, nor protected, with or without the ban in place.

The same cannot be said for other citizens of Wisconsin. For thousands of families, the ban on marriage equality represents a hurdle, a financial burden in the form of unfair taxation and other financial matters, as well as a burden on families themselves by disallowing partners from visiting loved ones in the hospital or, worse yet, making critical medical decisions in desperate situations.

The ban on marriage for these couples is a grotesque shame, and ought to be removed at once. I understand your duty to defend Wisconsin law, but if found unconstitutional that obligation would no longer be required of you.

The time is right to get rid of this ban and to embrace marriage equality in the state. A majority of Wisconsinites embrace marriage rights for same-sex partners. But more importantly, the ban’s end, if lifted, would mean a great deal of security and peace of mind for thousands of families.

You have the chance to act out of compassion for these Wisconsin families. Please consider their rights, their needs, and their lives, and rescind your request for a stay of the court’s decision.

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