Friday, March 31, 2006

Former Seattleites Rethink Move to "Friendly" Wisconsin

(Link) Pam Kleiss and Salud Garcia left Seattle for what they thought was a more "lesbian-friendly" Wisconsin. With the rising tide of support for a marriage ban in that state, they're not so sure that move was a good idea.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
Abilene Reporter-News

When Pam Kleiss and Salud Garcia moved here from Seattle with their baby girl a few years ago, they were heartened that, in Kleiss' words, "this was a gay-lesbian-friendly place."

"At least we hoped it was," Garcia added.

But the women are having serious second thoughts as they watch the early stages of a battle over whether to write a ban on same-sex marriage into Wisconsin's constitution. "If we realized what was going to happen, we'd never have come," Kleiss said.

Same-sex marriage bans will be on the ballot this year in Wisconsin and at least six other states.

If all the measures pass - a distinct possibility, since voters have not once rejected one - more than half the nation will have outlawed gay marriage by way of the ballot. Bans also may reach the ballot this year in six other states.

In Wisconsin, "we're going to have a passionate debate - no question about that," said state Rep. Mark Gundrum, a Republican from New Berlin who sponsored the proposed ban. "This issue has gotten so big because of the incredibly aggressive push by gay activist groups. "

In Massachusetts, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2003 legalizing same-sex marriage. That decision galvanized opponents of gay marriage nationwide. Before the Massachusetts ruling, four states had marriage bans; since then, 15 states have enacted them.

In Wisconsin, where a state statute specifies that marriage is between "a husband and wife," the Legislature approved a bill in 2003 that would specifically limit marriage to "a man and a woman." But Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it. Afterward, a campaign for a constitutional amendment made its way through the Legislature with overwhelming support.

"That was our first inkling of the problems that could be ahead of us," Garcia said. After Kleiss gave birth to their daughter Audrey four years ago, Washington state law allowed Garcia to legally adopt her.

Because of a quirk in Wisconsin law, constitutional amendments must be approved during two consecutive legislative sessions, meaning a preliminary fight over the same-sex marriage ban has been under way for two years.

Backers of the ban have formed a group called the Wisconsin Coalition for Traditional Marriage. They have shipped 500,000 brochures statewide detailing the case for the amendment, along with 5,000 DVDs to churches that describe same-sex marriage as "the defining cultural issue of our day ... marriage is God's creation."