Two sides of the gay marriage aisle
While there are gay couples in Wisconsin, state law does not legally recognize them beyond a domestic partnership. The line between Republican and Democratic positions is deeply dug.
“At this point, the people have spoken in Wisconsin,” said state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls), referring to the 2006 constitutional amendment in Wisconsin.
“I believe our Constitution is the way that most people in Wisconsin want us to be,” said state Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson). “My thought has always been that marriage should always be between one man and one woman.”
This traditional definition of marriage is one that Harsdorf said she supports too.
“Marriage was intended to be between a man and a woman,” she said. “That’s just what I believe.”
“We will probably, for years, have a patchwork around the country where there are different approaches in different states, and I think that’s an all right thing,” Knudson said.
After he was appointed in 1916, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said states are laboratories for democracy.
“I think that’s exactly what you’re going to see happening in this issue,” said Knudson.
Across the aisle are state Democrats like Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and Rep. Chris Danou.
“It’s something that people can’t control; it’s the way they were born. It makes sense to me they should be able to choose who they want to marry,” Vinehout said. “People are equal no matter what their preferences are. They were equal in their relationship.”
The “gay hate amendment,” as she called it, was not one she voted for before her term but one she said she now has to deal with.
“It is a long process by definition. By definition, the Constitution takes a long time to change,” she said. “This is very discouraging for people who are contacting me.”
“In minimum, it will be a while,” said Danou. “I think in the long term, it’s inevitable.”
He said when Wisconsin looks back on the amendment it will be with regret. Vinehout said the same, but added that she thinks Wisconsin will be one of the last to pass a same sex marriage law.
To express concerns on either side of the issue, contact local representatives.