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Wisconsin considers constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage

Wisconsin considers constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage

State lawmakers have proposed amending the Wisconsin constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages and civil unions after failing to push through legislation late last year defining marriage as a union between one woman and one man. Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed that bill last year, prompting lawmakers to propose the constitutional amendment. Current law defines marriage as between a husband and wife. But the proposed amendment's sponsor, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, said the statute does not go far enough to ensure that marriage in Wisconsin remains between a man and a woman in light of a Massachusetts court decision ruling that it is unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from the rights and responsibilities of marriage. "What is society willing to accept and consider true marriage?" Fitzgerald asked. The amendment would have to pass consecutive two-year sessions of the state legislature and be approved by voters in a statewide ballot to take effect. Christopher Ott, executive director of the gay rights group Action Wisconsin, said the amendment would designate gays and lesbians as second-class citizens in Wisconsin. He said he hopes other lawmakers would step in and prevent the proposal from passing both houses in two consecutive sessions. But he admits it would be a tough fight to stop the amendment from taking effect if put to voters in a statewide referendum. "This amendment would do nothing other than to entrench prejudice in the constitution," Ott said. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn its regular floor period for the current session on March 11. Sponsors said they hope to have the proposed amendment approved before then so that lawmakers can take it up a second time when the next session convenes in January 2005.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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