Reasons To Love Summer In Madison

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What If Wisconsin Made Legal History With Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage?

The headline above the fold on the front page of the Wisconsin State Journal was the story many of us have dreamed about.  Picking the paper off the front stoop this morning was a real joy as I read the following.

A federal appeals court decision to move quickly on the challenge to Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban means the case could be chosen by the U.S. Supreme Court to settle all the similar challenges that have sprung up across the nation in the last year, experts said.

It is only natural for those of us who have engaged in the fight so Wisconsin would allow for all loving couples to be treated fairly not to then feel a twinge of hope that it might be our state that produces the right case for the Supreme Court to make a final decision for same-sex marriage.

After all, we have fought the odds from the start when a most draconian and mean-spirited amendment was placed before the voters in 2006 that was designed simply to undermine the civil rights of gay couples who reside in this state.  It was never a fair question to ask the voters when partisans in the state legislature rammed through the amendment so to get in on the ballot.

After all why should the voters of Wisconsin get to decide in a very permanent way the rights of only one segment of the population.  Why should gay people have had their civil rights decided upon by a referendum of the masses?  What do you think the result of such a vote would have been for the African-American people in 1964?  What would the result have been had the rights of Japanese Americans been up for a vote in the 1940s?

What happened in 2006 in this state was mean.  And it was ugly.  The rights of others should never be put to a vote!

Striking out at gay Americans was the Republican way to rally their base during an election for governor in 2006 by exciting those among the base so to ensure they then cast a ballot on Election Day.  In hindsight it is now clear the GOP should have found a better candidate rather than spreading a message of hatred and intolerance.

But gay people–not only here in Wisconsin–but throughout the nation continued what was started decades ago by putting a face on what is was to be gay.  We came out to our friends and those we worked with, told the gang we threw darts with, and even brought our better-half with us for the family dinner on Thanksgiving.  We showed others that being gay was just as routine and perhaps even as boring as all the other lives being lived.  There was no reason to fear us, and certainly no reason to work to deny us the fairness and equality that  comes with marriage rights.

I have been most pleased to see the movement of the nation towards accepting and understanding the argument we have made.  Poll after poll show that the partisans who wish to spin my civil rights for their won narrow purposes no longer have the support of the majority of voters.

And now it is possible that Wisconsin might very well be the Supreme Court case that makes for national headlines with a ruling that makes gay-marriage legal everywhere.

Until the appeals court sped up its handling of the case, it appeared that the U.S. Supreme Court would pick a case from another state where the appeals process was further along, said Andrew Coan, a UW-Madison Law School professor and expert on the federal courts.

“Cases likely to be chosen will be those that are through the appeals level at the beginning of the Supreme Court’s term (in October),” Coan said. “If a case is decided on an expedited schedule, that increases the chances the Supreme Court would choose to use it as a vehicle for deciding the issue nationally.”

Walls look mighty big when confronted, but as we have seen they can fall when the better angels of our society take up the cause and fight injustice.  We are not finished yet, but there is every reason to have the highest of hopes.

And it would be sweet justice indeed if the court’s ruling came as a result of the partisan meanness from the 2006 amendment in Wisconsin.