Posts Tagged ‘domestic partnerships’

Why Democrats need to talk about gay marriage

August 3, 2009

This is a big day in the Badger State. The domestic partnership registry is now open and now same-sex couples are eligible to get legal recognition from the state for their relationships. Why is this an important concept in western society? Should it be? Why is there such an emphasis on getting the state to acknowledge your love for another person? Although most advocates of gay marriage or domestic partnerships will herald this day as a victory for human rights and equality, it’s nevertheless important to recognize today as a step forward in pragmatic social policy, in which the value of the family in our society has been affirmed and strengthened.

If there is one issue upon which the liberals have the moral high ground, it’s family values. Simply put, liberals support policies that foster family growth in this country. They support the right of homosexuals, who, depending on data, comprise three to ten percent of our population, to form families. The right does not. Although many on the right have retreated from the junk science claim that homosexuality is simply a lifestyle choice, they continue to paradoxically insist that gays are better off living on the outskirts of society, in certain neighborhoods of big cities, than in the American mainstream, where they can form relationships and start families.

The right now finds itself in a no-man’s land on the issue of gay rights. On one hand, it has a decreasing but still-significant constituency that believes that homosexuality is a choice and a sin that can be fought and killed. On the other hand it is under pressure to appeal to more moderate elements of the right and center, who have, for lack of better words, come to grips with the facts. While they can no longer condemn homosexuality as immoral, they must tacitly support policies that brand it as such by making vague illusions to the sanctity of marriage . The good news is that eventually the latter constituency will win out, and the Republican Party will one day have to apologize for the demagoguery of the Bush years, much like southern politicians had to make up excuses for supporting segregation after it went out of fashion.

In moderate states like Wisconsin, Republicans are quickly realizing that gay rights is not an issue they can win on anymore. Democrats should not breathe a sigh of relief. They should take the issue and hit the GOP over the head with it. Democratic leaders should emphasize the importance of encouraging marriage in our society. They should discuss the importance of encouraging monogamy and how the GOP has tacitly told gays that their relationships are not wanted – that they’d prefer to keep gays in gay bars than in families. Talk about adoption! About the thousands of orphans, who the Republicans believe are evidence of a successfully avoided abortion, but who they’d prefer to keep in orphanages than in loving families.

An appeal has already come from Wisconsin Family Acation, a right wing organization bent on making Wisconsin an artificial addition to the Bible Belt. They are claiming the domestic partnerships violates the 2006 constitutional amendment, because it mimics marriage. Based on the judge’s interpretation, the law could be ruled unconstitutional, but it shouldn’t be. Frankly, the domestic partnerships did not go that far – there are still significant legal distinctions between it and marriage. Therefore, no reasonable judge, with a technical interpretation of the law, would rule that it is a violation.

Doyle signs budget – highlights for Madison

June 29, 2009

“Unfortunately we must now all make sacrifices due to reckless behavior on Wall St. and in real estate markets.”

Doyle, in a 73 page budget message, outlined the successes and failures of the budget. He commends lawmakers for being the first legislature since 1977 to pass a budget before the beginning of the biennium – meaning that this is the first time in over 30 years that Wisconsin has met its own deadline. The budget covered a variety of hot topics, including domestic partnership benefits for UW employees, sentencing reform in state prisons and a drastic cigarette tax increase.

Highlights for Madison:

Provides group health insurance and retirement survivor benefits to domestic partners of state employees and UW faculty and staff

Provides the faculty and research assistants of UW the right to collectively bargain

$15 million to strengthen the UW System’s ability to retain faculty

$250 million program to revenate the Charter St Heating and Cooling Plant to eliminate use of coal

$20.3 million for financial aid programs for low income Wisconsin residents

$8.2 million to support bio-tech, nanotechnology research at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (UW-Madison)

Other general highlights:

Allows certain inmates to earn positive adjustment time for good behavior

Increases income taxes 1 percent on single inviduals making over $300,000

Increases the cigarette tax from 75 cents per pack to $2.52 per pack

The long term capital gains exemption is lowered from 60% to 30%

Mandates that insurance companies cover autism

Covers dependents up to age 27 in group health policies.

Adds $823 million in transportation funding for highways and local transportation

Creates “regional transit authorities” in the Chippewa Valley, Chequamegon Bay region, Dane County and the Southeast