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Debate heats up
over same-sex marriage amendment in Wisconsin

Debate heats up
over same-sex marriage amendment in Wisconsin

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Supporters and opponents raised the specter of judicial interference as advocates debated the pros and cons Tuesday night of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that goes before Wisconsin voters on November 7.

Supporters and opponents raised the specter of judicial interference as advocates debated the pros and cons Tuesday night of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, which goes before Wisconsin voters on November 7. "This issue boils down to we the people defining marriage or a judge with an agenda doing it for us," said Julaine Appling of the Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, which supports the amendment, at the debate in Green Bay. "The amendment is designed to prevent the institution of marriage from being redefined by a judge creatively coming up with some new name." Opponents contend the amendment would have ramifications for gay and unmarried straight couples because it also would bar the state from recognizing any civil union or other legal status similar to marriage. The result, they argue, could be new restrictions on domestic-partner benefits, and questions over rights of partners to hospital visits and medical decisions. "Nobody knows exactly what that wording is going to do," said Mike Tate of Fair Wisconsin, which opposes the amendment. "One thing is for sure--a lot of judges, a lot of lawyers, and a lot of courts are going to be dragged into this, and the residents of Wisconsin are going to have to read about this for years to come." Appling said current benefits between unmarried couples would not be jeopardized. "We are not going to see benefit structures currently in place taken away by this amendment, nor will local units of government or companies be prohibited from creating such benefits in the future should they choose to," she said. "This is about preservation--nothing about punitive action." Tate framed it as an issue of fairness. "It's a debate about who we are as a people in Wisconsin and how we treat people who live here," he said. "This is about families that live everywhere in the state and whether we're going to take away their ability to share health care benefits or raise children under the protection of the law." (AP)

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