An Online Magazine in the Reality-Based Community.

Fair Wisconsin's ad shows why fairness matters

Monday, September 18, 2006

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."

With that in mind, if the above passes on November 7, Wisconsin's amendment would outlaw basic legal protections provided for gay families. Fair Wisconsin points out that rights to hospital visits, medical decisions, shared pensions, or funeral arrangements for a partner are in jeopardy.

Here is FW's no-holds-barred ad featuring the story of Lynn and Jean and their adopted daugher Katy.



Background:
Katy was home for only nine months when Jean was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Lynn, a physical therapist, cut down her work hours in order to juggle caring for Jean and taking care of a new baby.

Lynn was not recognized as Jean's next of kin—as her family. Because they were legal strangers, they faced extra obstacles beyond those any family faces when a loved one is dying of cancer.

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This meant Lynn had to worry about whether she would be able to see Jean in the hospital. There were moments during Jean’s most difficult days when it was not clear that Lynn would be able make critical, urgent medical decisions.

When it became clear that Jean was going to die, Lynn faced the prospect of losing the love of her life and having to raise Katy as a single mom. She was worried about the finances, knowing she had no legal recognition as a surviving spouse.

...Instead of focusing solely on sharing Jean’s final days, Lynn and Jean had to bring a lawyer into the hospital—and spend thousands of dollars—to try to provide for Katy’s future. They did what they could, but even with those basic measures, things were still harder than they had to be. For example, Lynn had no legal right to Jean’s pension, and anything Jean could pass on to Lynn would be taxed because they were legal strangers in the eyes of the law.

Even after Jean died, Lynn was refused the final medical report. In order to obtain it she had to have Jean's out-of-town relative sign for it.
Did you watch the ad? It kicked ass. When you see something like this, you have to ask an obvious question:

What will it take for people to understand how basic these rights are, and how it's time to fight for fairness? Gay families exist. This is not some hypothetical situation; the people affected in these states with amendments, all you elected officials out there, we are your constituents.

Democratic candidates for office and Beltway know-and-do-nothings -- you are going to have to take a position on what basic rights you feel LGBT citizens are entitled to in this country, period. Specifically what rights as an elected official, are you willing to fight for at the local, state and federal levels. We're tired of being ATMs, or having you whisper in our ears "we're with you, just be patient while I stroke this fundie over here to try and get their vote."

Get on the record, and let the chips fall where they may. It's not as though the GOP is going to leave the homo straw man in the closet.

It was safe in 2004 to punt and say marriage is between a man and a woman/I oppose a fed marriage amendment/leave it to the states. Now that the election is over, and the amendments are sailing through, partnership benefits are now being challenged, domestic violence cases are being tossed out (for unmarried straights and gays), adoption and fostering of children by gays and lesbians are under attack. The Right is using the amendment as a means to turn the clock back. And another election cycle approaches.

The battle for civil equality requires straight allies and politicians with spines, not people who have made it clear, in word and deed, that gays are on their own, and "I'm sorry, but it's just going to be too bad for this generation" -- that gay and lesbian taxpaying citizens will have to just "wait until hearts and minds are changed" and it's up to us to do all the heavy lifting.

In the meantime, the vote in Wisconsin is close. Hopefully the story of Lynn and Jean will educate and wake up voters -- potential straight allies -- to the fact that fairness does matter, even if their lives are not directly affected by this amendment.

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Here's where you can contribute to Fair Wisconsin. This is the state that has the best chance of turning back an amendment on the ballot -- it would be the first. The AmTaliban knows how important this is -- Daddy Dobson has parachuted in.