Monday, July 26, 2010

On Tuesday, Let’s Hope ‘Forward’ — Influences the National Organization for Marriage

Posted in the op-ed section of the Capitol Times.

The National Organization for Marriage tour bus will stop by our Capitol building on Tuesday at noon to bring its message to the residents of Dane County that only different-sex couples are families. Local residents who support marriage for all loving, committed couples will hold a counterdemonstration where they will likely outnumber the NOM folks. The Madison office of the ACLU of Wisconsin will send volunteer legal observers to witness the protest and counterdemonstration as people on both sides of the marriage debate flex their free speech rights. We love it.

The ACLU of Wisconsin welcomes the National Organization for Marriage bus tour to rally on our Capitol steps. And not just because everyone has the right to free speech. We welcome the NOM because we are for marriage too. Like free speech, everyone should have the right to marry. And the ACLU of Wisconsin continues to work to advance the fair treatment of same-sex couples.

Until the time when voters can successfully repeal the discriminatory constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying, there are more real families that need equal protection under law today. Just over a year ago, the state Legislature created a domestic partner registry and benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. But these steps fall far short of the necessary legal protections provided to the families of married couples. National and local foes of the domestic registry want to challenge it.

Among the opponents, the National Organization for Marriage wants to convince voters of the need to restrict the freedom and liberty of loving, committed couples to have their marriages recognized by law. This group should have a hard time proving that heterosexual marriages are threatened by recognizing other relationships. Fortunately most Madisonians know exactly how much stronger our community is because of the diverse families who live here. And that is the kind of freedom we all can be proud of.

In the long run, people who work to restrict freedom and liberty will fail. The history of our country and our Constitution is a story of evolution, progress and an expansion of rights for individual freedom. Hopefully, when the National Organization for Marriage bus tour stops at the Capitol near a statue emblazoned with our state motto “Forward,” they will be welcomed as freedom of speech dictates, and then they will take the statue’s advice.

Please visit the op-ed webpage and log in to leave your comments on why NOM is wrong about same-sex marriage.