November 30, 2005

"Isn’t it the right of citizens of the state to answer this question?"

Yesterday there was a long, crowded hearing at the Wisconsin Capitol. The subject: a resolution to amend the state constitution to preclude gay marriage. Voters would make the final call next November.


Paul said...

The resolution will never protect against activist judges, since it was activist judges who make an attempt to keep the definition of marriage in it's traditional state necessary to begin with.
And judges will decide what is best for the country whether that is their role or not and wether we like it or not..

ALH ipinions said...

With all due respect Ann, I do not think it’s the right of citizens of any state to decide what constitutes equal rights for fellow citizens.

If this were the case, it’s entirely possible that citizens of some states would have voted to preclude interracial marriages or to deny even more basic human rights for fellow citizens.

Too Many Jims said...

"A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."

I assume what they mean is "no marriage, no civil unions", but I truly do not understand why they do not say it more clearly. If you don't trust judges with interpreting language, why not be clearer.

downtownlad said...

You can't compare this to the ban on inter-racial marriage. Those laws were much fairer to minorities than the current laws are to gay people today. At least minorities were allowed to marry each other.

I'm perfectly happy to accept a segregationist marriage law. Straight people can only marry straight people and gay people can only marry gay people.

Ann Althouse said...

ALH: What's with the "With all due respect Ann" b.s.? I asked a question! Don't assume you know my answer to it! That is short of the respect due. Way short.

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, I quoted a question. You shouldn't even assume that's the question I would pose.

XWL said...

Prof. Althouse, with all due respect, How dare you even repeat a question whose whole premise I disagree with?

Shame on you. What makes you think you have the right to foster debate on the blog you administrate?

Oh wait, ummm. nevermind.

(I can't help myself sometimes, not that I don't get inappropriately indignant from time to time, but it's sooooo much fun to point it out when it's someone else doing it)

This is a charged issue, on both sides. My own take on it is that there should be NO civil marriage or de facto recognition of partners of any kind.

Make everyone, regardless of orientation make contracts with each other if they choose to be bound to each other. Any coupling would be possible then, and people of all stripes could call what they have together 'marriage' but there would be no state sanctioned legally binding meaning to the word.

peter hoh said...

There is a push for this kind of referendum in Minnesota, too. If we're going to have legislation by referendum, then bring it on. I want an amendment requiring that any stadium proposal using tax dollars must be approved by voters.

sockpuppet230 said...

the answer to the question is no, but it will be done anyway, because they will assert such "right".

Wisconsin Christians United were there with the big signs right? If the hearing was well-accounced they were. Love those folks at the farmers market. Gotta respect extremism. Madison is a cool city, even if they are outsiders.

I do believe that this time will be heavily reinterpreted someday. (I am 33 years old)

I think this, to my generation and younger, will be treated like support for slavery, jim crow, lynchings, housing segregation, indifference to jews before the end of WWII, etc. that were all fashionable at one time.

No one will admit to knowing anyone with such views. No one will be rude enough to engage Grandpa and Grandma at holiday dinner and ask just what they were thinking back then in 2005.

But anyway, for now, sorry Dane County and Madison. You are heavily outvoted, might as well stay home, you will lose. Even liberal states vote for this stuff when put to the people.

What it means is nothing, people would "referenda" away their first and second amendment rights in a heartbeat. Doesn't make it right, but inevitible surely.

I would end state marriage. Free the churches from the state in this area, so they can do or do not, whatever they wish. Private contracts can take care of the details like estates.

Voters and the people are way overrated.

amen to my brother Peter!

sorry rambling on too long here.

Too Many Jims said...

We have (essentially) a government by the plebescite in this country. It is called California. Bad way to govern. They could pass two proposals on the same ballot, one saying there are no more taxes and the next saying healthcare is paid for by the state.

ALH ipinions said...


I apologise for the form of my comment.

I assumed nothing about your answer to the question. In fact, as you are a law prof, the only assumption I would've made in this context is that you would agree with the substantive points in my comment.

Icepick said...

XWL, if you would do away with the ancient tradition of marriage, what traditions would you keep? How long can a society maintain itself if no traditions are acceptable?

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, ALH. As I've said in many old posts, I support gay marriage. I also have great problems with referenda and with putting things like this in constitutions.


Barry said...

While the idealist in me hopes that the people could be trusted to do the right, compassionate, and moral thing should such a referendum come to be presented, the somewhat experienced Wisconsinite in me thinks that most people in this state have too much hate and fear to do so. There's a serious divide between the people who still think homosexuality is an aberration to be defeated, and those of us who understand it as a just another quality of some people that makes them neither good nor evil.

It pains me that some of my friends and family have to face such prejudice, and I just can't understand the hate from the other side. I was on the other side when I was growing up because everyone I knew was. Gays were, at best, to be ridiculed, or, at worst, to be hated. I regard it as a signifigant step in my maturation that I eventually saw the light. It took recognition of my own foolishness and the bravery of some of my closest friends who came out to me, in spite of things I may have said or done in the past.

Anyway, I guess this is why we have a representative government - that old idea that maybe sometimes the citizenry is not well enough informed to make the right decision themselves, so we choose someone else to do it for us. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. I hope that someday _soon_ we'll tip the balance and reach the point, like sockpuppet230 comments, where all of this will seem as wrong as our forebearer's attitudes on race and slavery.

peter hoh said...

By the way, wouldn't it take an activist reading find the "right . . . to answer this question" in the constitution? Must be from one of them penumbra things, formed by those emanations. That would explain the odor.

chuck b. said...

As a gay man myself, I accept the fact that there are many Americans who will never want for me what I want for myself. That's life.

My grandmother didn't like black people or Jews until the day she died and nothing would ever change her mind. She deplored interracial marriage and commented snidly whenever she saw a mixed-race couple and even felt it was necessary to point out things about their children. "That child has a lot of black in it!"

But, thanfully, she did eventually die. And with her died her attitude. Not to sound morbid, but that's how it'll go: one death at a time.

Oh, for a nonsequitir's sake--my grandmother was a conservative New England Republican.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

ChrisO said...

Count me as another one who's opposed to government by referendum. I agree with sockpuppet230. I truly believe the public would vote to severely restrict freedom of the press, particularly in times of irrational fear.

And in response to icepick, who asked "if you would do away with the ancient tradition of marriage, what traditions would you keep? How long can a society maintain itself if no traditions are acceptable?" I would say that true traditions almost by definition don't need to be protected by legislation, paricularly in a case where no one is trying to eliminate the tradition of heterosexual marriage. A large part of the reason homosexual marriage isn't a tradition is because homosexuals have routinely been discriminated against.

XWL said...

Icepick: Where did I say I'd get rid of the 'ancient tradition of marriage'?

I stated I'd end government involvement in marriage, big difference in my opinion.

People would still be able to enjoy marriage under god, marriage within a community, marriage in all its forms, except the expectation that government automatically extends certain benefits and responsibilities based on this union.

It's the confusion of civil and religious marriage that causes the pushback against naming same sex unions also 'marriage'.

I feel that everything covered under the civil definitions of marriage now would better be covered by a direct contract.

It sounds radical, but I think it's just sensible.

(and Prof. Althouse, glad you got a laugh out of my silliness)

I hate saying almost the same thing twice, but sometimes clarity requires repetition.