Several hundred gay rights activists on Monday protested a proposed amendment to the Wisconsin constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriages or civil unions, saying they have been ignored by lawmakers intent on writing discrimination into state law. A senate committee was also scheduled Monday to hold a public hearing on the proposal as Wisconsin participates in a debate raging nationwide over same-sex marriages. But the activists boycotted the hearing, saying it was a sham and the committee had already made up its mind to approve the amendment. The activists also challenged lawmakers who support the amendment to sign a fidelity pledge, promising to remain faithful in their own marriages and denounce others who do not for undermining the sanctity of marriage.
The proposed amendment is in the early stages of a long process to become law. An amendment must pass both houses of the legislature in consecutive legislative sessions and be approved by voters in a statewide referendum before it can take effect. It has not been scheduled for a vote in either house yet. Wisconsin statutes already define marriage as a contract between a husband and a wife and do not recognize same-sex marriage. But supporters say the amendment is needed to ensure that "activist judges" do not interpret the Wisconsin constitution to require same-sex marriages or require recognition of same-sex marriages approved in other states. President Bush has endorsed an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would outlaw same-sex marriages.