It may seem like a small news story to most people living in Wisconsin. But to gay people, and especially those in relationships, the news Tuesday concerning a poll by Marquette University was something to really rejoice about.
For the first time a majority of my fellow state citizens support gay marriage, The results show 53 percent support gay couples being allowed the same legal rights as others have when they are able to wed. I do not take the news for granted, or lightly. It was, after all, a very long climb to this point in the polls, and lots of work and effort from so many who presented to the public the fact that gay relationships are no different from all the others that society so easily recognizes and has codified into law. Just last year the same question garnered only 44 percent of those questioned.
This news is a very big deal.
I am now age 51, and look back on the road that many of us gay people traveled and marvel that we have made so much progress. While 2006 was a most embarrassing time in Wisconsin due to a partisan move to place a constitutional amendment before the voters limiting rights and freedoms, I am also very aware of something else that is far more powerful.
The strength of our argument that all couples should be treated fairly has made tremendous strides within the past decade. What has happened with the poll movement among the people of this state mirrors what is happening all over the nation. Gay couples decided to present themselves honestly and forthrightly in every aspect of their daily lives. From work to play, from grocery shopping, going to church, being on a bowling league or a member of a neighborhood association gay couples have put faces to the issue and in so doing have helped persuade society towards a more healthy way of viewing marriage rights.
What I hope does not happen, and I am sure most enlightened people of all political stripes will agree, is no one attempts some dark political calculation aimed at trying to foster renewed bigotry or animus against gay people just when there seems to be steady movement towards equality. Having grown up in rural conservative Waushara County I have seen both sides of the arc of history when it comes to gay rights. I never thought it possible when being continually bullied in high school by people who only thought I was gay that there would come a day when a statewide poll would underscore the desire for strong civil rights for gay couples.
I know this story does not resonate with everyone as it does in our home tonight.
But let me say it most clearly.
This is big news, indeed!