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Madison, Wisconsin strikes at marriage amendment with oath proposal

I want to be happy about this, but this proposed token gesture by the city of Madison does nothing to soothe the real-world wounds of the gay and lesbian population of Wisconsin. They are now second-class citizens — because of the state’s voters who deemed that it was fine to determine the civil rights of a minority at the ballot box. (365gay):

Madison, Wisconsin could become the first city in the nation to require a statement supporting same-sex marriage in the oaths of office of city officials.

The state passed a constitutional amendment in November banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. But the electorate in Madison voted 2-to-1 against the measure.

Tuesday city council will consider adding a line to the oaths of office taken by elected and appointed officials in Madison that states disagreement with the amendment – even though the same oath says they will uphold both the Wisconsin and the US constitutions.

The added line would say that the state amendment “besmirches our constitution” and those choosing to state this in the oath “would fight to overturn it and work to minimize its impact.”

Even this mild effort is lighting a fire under pro-amendment forces, who may sue over the proposed oath.

I suppose the upside of the affirming oath is that it forces public officials to go on the record clearly indicating that they are allies (or perhaps giving people an opportunity to come out), but as I said, for those whose families are now legally vulnerable due to the passage of the amendment, or people thinking about doing business with or moving to Wisconsin, they know that the voters have spoken, and now it’s time for gays and allies to speak with their feet and wallets in response

That, however, doesn’t mean deserting those who are still fighting for equality in the state — Fair Wisconsin did the best they could to defeat the amendment and will continue working for change. State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D) plans to propose an amendment that removes the language from the current amendment to allow civil unions.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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