Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Voters lock in gay-marriage ban

[media-credit name=’PATRICK STATZ-BOYER/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′]Gay_Marriage_PS-B[/media-credit]MONONA — The controversial amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in Wisconsin passed Tuesday night by a 59 to 41 percent vote, adding Wisconsin to a list of 20 other states that have already passed similar amendments prior to the fall mid-term.

A small group of amendment supporters turned out to show their support for the ban on civil unions and gay marriage, gathering at Monona Oaks Community Church to watch election news coverage in the company of food and friends.

The amendment, authored by state Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin, limits marriage to one man and one woman and bans any status substantially similar to marriage, namely civil unions.


Vote Yes for Marriage, the state's leading pro-amendment group, voiced its satisfaction with the final results, saying the ban will protect the institution of marriage for the sake of Wisconsin's children and future.

"The church is the moral gatekeeper of our society," said Julaine Appling, head of Vote Yes and executive director of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin. "When the church is silent on moral issues … then all of society suffers."

While amendment backers met the results with relief and happiness, the atmosphere at Fair Wisconsin's victory party was decidedly more somber in nature.

"Honestly, I wasn't prepared for the citizens of Wisconsin to write discrimination into our Constitution," one lesbian said with her arm around her partner.

More than 400 supporters of Fair Wisconsin, the state's leading anti-amendment organization, packed the Monona Terrace ballroom Tuesday night to await the referendum results.

Mike Tate, campaign manager for Fair Wisconsin, presented the concession speech to the crowd, which included many gay couples.

"We did not lose because the people of Wisconsin don't like gay people. We lost because the people of Wisconsin don't know gay people," Tate said.

But according to Appling, the amendment debate is not about the morality of homosexuality, but rather about maintaining the "natural family" she says provides the best environment for growing children.

Same-sex marriage, like other societal problems of divorce and abuse, she added, negatively impacts the foundation of life.

"When the institution of marriage becomes so devalued that people don't want in it, then society is on perilous ground," Appling said.

Reed Heckmann, director of church development for the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, agreed. He called the amendment not a partisan issue, but rather an issue for everyone.

At the Fair Wisconsin gathering, Tate also praised Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's support of the anti-amendment campaign, expressing his excitement that Wisconsin chose to re-elect the governor. Doyle defeated his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis., Tuesday night by just less than a 10-point margin.

"Jim Doyle never once came off his position that this was discrimination and that this hurt Wisconsin families, and he said tonight, 'Mike, we will win this fight, we just lost today,'" Tate said.

Also attending the Fair Wisconsin event was newly re-elected Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison. Pocan, who is openly gay, ran unopposed for his 78th district Assembly seat.

Pocan said he was glad Dane County rejected the amendment, which he said was vague and confusing.

"The problem is, if you put it on the back of a ballot with a lot of measures coming up in a fall election, and ask people to digest it in a very sound-bite sort of way … it's a lot harder to get the truth out," Pocan said.

While the ban's opponents said the language of the amendment obscured its true meaning, Vote Yes members and other supporters argued Tuesday's results show how committed Wisconsin citizens are to protecting marriage.

"If they can't win here, you've got to wonder, 'Where can they win?'" Heckmann said, referring to gay-rights activists in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin was one of eight states to vote on a gay-marriage amendment Tuesday, and as of press time voters passed the measure in South Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee, and Virginia. Though full results were still pending in Colorado and South Dakota, both states were projected to pass the amendment as of press time; in Arizona, however, polls were reporting 51 percent of voters chose against the gay-marriage ban.

While Wisconsin passed the same-sex marriage amendment by a nearly 20-point margin with 95 percent of the precincts reporting as of press time, the death penalty advisory referendum also passed, 55 to 45 percent.

The referendum asked voters whether they would support using the death penalty in cases of first-degree homicide supported by DNA evidence. Because the referendum was only advisory in nature, legislation would still have to be passed in the state Legislature and signed by the governor in order to reinstate capital punishment in Wisconsin.

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