Thursday, May 25, 2006

Waking up on November 8, 2006

Last weekend, if you hadn’t heard, volunteers knocked on doors in all 72 Wisconsin counties, talking to people about the amendment to ban civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples. (Personally, I heard a lot about it, since I had a hand in printing out many of the walking lists that volunteers used around the state.)

Fair Wisconsin has a page where they’ve compiled press coverage for the 72-County Canvass. Locally, Barry Adams had a nice write-up of the event in the Wisconsin State Journal, featuring the University of Wisconsin-Madison LGBT Campus Center’s very own, Nathan Figueroa. Mayor Dave also took part in the Madison canvass.

This event demonstrates the broad scope from which we're fighting this battle. It's not just in Madison or at the University of Wisconsin, it's happening throughout the state. And no matter where you are in Wisconsin – if you’ve gone home for the summer, for example – there are things you can do to help out.

Today, I walked into the office of one of the staff members at the Fair Wisconsin, and I saw a sign that said: “How will you feel when you wake up on November 8?” It’s a question we should all be asking ourselves – a question whose answer we should be shaping every day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The State of the Ban (in the News)

Judith Davidoff’s article, “Taking Liberties,” in today’s Capital Times, discusses the legal and political implications of the same-sex marriage and civil unions ban, as well as where various groups around the state stand on the issue.

She opens writing that the ban would write discrimination into the constitution, an unusual and unprecedented act:

Banning same-sex marriage through a proposed amendment to the state constitution would write discrimination into the 158-year-old document for the first time in Wisconsin history.

She also quotes and names groups around the state who have come out in opposition to the ban, including the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, Latinos United for Change and Advancement, and the Urban League of Greater Madison.

Perhaps most alarming in the article is what the supporters of the ban have to say. Julaine Appling of the Family Research Institute, for example, argues that gays and lesbians are not discriminated against, suggesting that in order for discrimination to occur:

You have to have an immutable characteristic, you have to have financial deprivation and you have to have political powerlessness.

She claims that gays and lesbians have none of the three, and to prove there is no immutable characteristic, she adds:

I've met many, many, many former homosexuals, but I've never met a former black man or a former Chinese man.

Additionally, Gordon Hoyton, a law professor at Marquette University, preposterously argues that it isn’t unusual to take away rights in a constitutional amendment:

The 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, for instance, prevents individuals from selling themselves into slavery.

Hoyton, perhaps, would have been better off mentioning prohibition, rather than implying that the millions of African(-American)s enslaved and tortured throughout history actually desired their fate.

But that’s not the real point.

The point is, we have an opportunity - and a duty - to ensure that discrimination is not written into the Wisconsin State Constitution. The words of those in favor of the ban bespeaks intolerance, and we must do everything we can this summer - in the next 173 days, and beyond even - to ensure that we live in a safe, tolerant, and accepting society. And to do it, we have to work together - we have to build coalitions of support.

Start by talking to your friends, your neighbors, your family, and your coworkers. Write letters to the editors. Knock on doors. Start out with small steps, but be persistent, and eventually we’ll get there.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Summer's Here

Now that finals and graduation and move-out week are all complete, it's time for a blog revival - summer's here! Really, I just wanted to take a moment to point out opportunities for you all to get involved this summer.

If you're ever looking for ways to get involved with the campaign, the first step is to check out Fair Wisconsin's Events Calendar. A few highlights from that calendar:

  • Statewide Door-to-Door Canvass: From 10:00 am to 3:00 pm this Saturday, May 20, we will be canvassing each of Wisconsin's 72 Counties!

  • Volunteer Nights: Volunteer Nights are being held in the Madison office (located at 122 State Street) each week from 6:00 to 9:00 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights and from 4:30 to 8:00 pm on Sundays. Stop by to make phone calls or help out with data entry and other projects!

If you've gone home for the summer, watch the events calendar for opportunities near your hometown. Or, if you have a story to share, email us about writing for the blog.

And don't forget to relax and enjoy the weather - things will be heating up as the summer moves on!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Summer's Coming

I can tell that the year is ending over by my quiet lakeshore dorms. Those red carts, sitting around to help people move their stuff out, remind me of the day we all showed up back in August. It went fast, that's for sure; the year passing so quickly reminds me that November 7th is coming at the same pace.


Terrace in the Summer.

Our last Students for Equality meeting, which focused on the first couple weeks at the beginning of next semester, centered a lot on getting new incoming students informed about the amendment and interested in our group. With multiple lit drops, mailbox stuffers, meetings, and Speakers Trainings planned for the fall, I'd be disappointed if every freshmen hadn't heard the words "Students for Equality" at least once by the time October rolled around. Be sure to check in on our events page during the coming days and weeks to see what we're up to over the summer and at the beginning of next semester.

A lot of our plans also involve our growing list of coalition members! Our most recent additions, Advocates for Choice, Voices for Planned Parenthood, the University of Wisconsin Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and the University of Wisconsin School of Social Work, will all be crucial and influential in our goal of educating campus about the ban. Even though summer is coming quickly, we hope that student organizations will continue to join the fight for equality during the hotter Wisconsin months.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Blogging on the Blog (Or, 'Metablog')

Before we get too far into things, it seems like we ought to offer some introduction or mission statement, as is often customary in the blogosphere. The blog already has two posts, which give a good idea of what we’re about, but I’m going to try to circle in and offer something less vague.

As our name suggests, this is the blog for the University of Wisconsin-Madison organization, Students for Equality, which is dedicated to educating campus about the upcoming amendment to ban civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples. (You’ll find most of that in the blog header, but it’s important and bears repeating, I think.) So what does that mean?

We are going to focus on this proposal and other LGBT issues. (Or perhaps it’s better to say we’re going to take off from that focus.) We will provide announcements and recaps of Students for Equality events and information about the amendment. We also hope our members will share their stories – why they’re interested in this issue and what got them involved. We want this to be a forum for the voices of equality, so if you have something you would like to write about, let us know what it is (you can find our contact information on the Students for Equality homepage), and we’ll see what we can do. And if you want to contribute on a more consistent basis, we’re open to that, too. We, of course, reserve the right to moderate posts and comments and submission inquires as we see fit, but we will try to remain as objective and open as possible.

With 189 days left until the vote, we’re excited and optimistic, but we can’t do it without your help. So stick with us – and write something if you’d like – it’s going to be quite the ride!