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Wisconsin Likely to Crush Gay Marriage Ban

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Message Michael Leon
Madison, Wisconsin""The so-called Defense of Marriage Acts/Amendments (DOMAs) will be back on the ballots in some 10 states this fall.

In Wisconsin""the first state to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation""the Rovian gay-bashing amendment is doomed.

Wisconsin would become the first state to defeat a non-judicial anti-gay marriage initiative since the Republican party instigated its recent national campaign against gays and lesbians resulting in 18 states passing some version of amendments to their constitutions that ban gay marriage.

The contention that the Republican-launched DOMAs""proposed statues or constitutional amendments that double as get-out-the-wacko-vote efforts and policy preferences""are effective in getting Republicans elected has been widely discredited. [See, for example, Alan Abramowitz at "Donkey Rising" for the definitive knock down of the thesis that the 11 state gay marriage referenda were decisive in Bush's 2004 electoral state wins.]

But the beleaguered Republican party cannot afford to lose its base, hence the return to gay-bashing marriage campaigns. Nationally, this June the U.S. Senate is expected to hold a vote on a proposed anti-gay marriage amendment to the U.S. constitution that will also likely be trounced.

The Wisconsin Republican initiative is the culmination of a two-session legislative process [voted almost exclusively along party lines] to amend the state constitution by voter referendum this November.

The proposed amendment [section 13 of article XIII] would result in not only the explicit banning of gay marriage by the Wisconsin constitution, but would also mandate that a "legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized"" That means, many legal scholars say, that the numerous domestic partner and civil union rights such as those enjoyed in Wisconsin municipalities like Madison would be in serious peril.

Those fearing that landmark achievements for gay civil rights in Madison and Wisconsin [some in the gay community used to boast that Wisconsin was the "gay rights state"] over the past 30 years will be obliterated in one day in November by a cynical Republican bigoted ruse can relax.

Electoral Numbers Spell a Defeat

Bear in mind that current polls (six months before the election) indicate that the coming campaign season portends highly-motivated Democratic voters and depressed Republican voters"" news about as welcome to Republican political operatives as living with a bleeding-out Ebola virus victim.

The electoral numbers and the generally tolerant culture in Wisconsin spell disaster for the amendment. Not that Wisconsin lacks for bigoted nut jobs who believe dinosaurs frolicked with Adam and Eve, that the devil watches our every act, and that gays will spend eternity suffering in hellfire.

But let's check some data in the last off-year (non-presidential), Wisconsin election""2002.

Madison and Milwaukee Counties

In Wisconsin, Madison-dominated Dane and Milwaukee counties [Dane and Milwaukee are two of three counties that cast over 100,000 votes in 2002] are by far the highest-performing Democratic/progressive strongholds. In 2002, Dane and Milwaukee counties composed some 25 percent of the voting public, and the combined Democratic/Green/Libertarian vote walloped the Republican 75 to 24 percent (Dane) and 63 to 35 percent (Milwaukee).

In Madison, both the dailies (the progressive Capital Times and the Republican Wisconsin State Journal) have come out strongly against the anti-gay amendment this year. Madison vote totals can be expected to exceed 90 percent against the amendment.

Expecting that the Democratic/Green/Libertarian sympathizers will decisively vote against the anti-gay marriage amendment, in order for the amendment to pass in 2006, it would need a landslide in the rest of Wisconsin to offset Madison-dominated Dane and Milwaukee counties. [So strong is the sentiment in Dane County against the religious right that former Rep. Mark Neumann""a religious right champion""complained after losing a razor-close battle to Sen. Russ Feingold in 1998 that "one county," Dane, cost him the election.]

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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at
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