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Wisconsin resident and former Massachusetts lawmaker Bob Hall is a conservative Republican who wants everyone to know that the only people who threaten traditional marriage are straight couples.

I'm opposed to the state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage now being considered by the Wisconsin legislature. Oh, I know I'm an unlikely champion of gay rights. I'm a Marine Corps Vietnam vet who has deep regrets about that war--mostly I regret that we didn't kill twice as many of those murdering totalitarian bastards. I hope we do better in Iraq. I believe the "out now" crowd are racists who think the Iraqis are too inferior to deserve democracy. Or they don't care, as long as America is defeated and George Bush embarrassed.

I worked hard to defeat John Kerry last November and will do so again if he runs. And I'm a death penalty advocate who thinks we should run it like a barbershop--two chairs, no waiting.

As a member of the Massachusetts state senate, I regularly voted against increasing the state budget--more than any other senator. And don't get me started on guns. I'm not for mandatory concealed carry, but I do think fondly of how polite folks were in the days when gentlemen wore swords.

Living in Madison, Wis., I feel a certain kinship with the Israeli ambassador to Baghdad. While I think of myself as a centrist Republican with a libertarian bent, to the average Progressive Dane voter, I'm a fascist pig.

So how did I become a supporter of gay rights? In 1973 then-Massachusetts state representative Barney Frank had filed bills prohibiting employment and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The bills came before a committee on which I served. There were a lot of jokes and nudging going on--this was the early '70s. Appearing to testify was a bright and charming woman, Elaine Noble, who would later serve as a state representative herself. Elaine convinced me that supporting Barney's bills was the right thing to do. I told the chair, Sen. Allen McKinnon, to record me in favor of them.

The bills received a favorable report--but no one in the committee's Democratic majority was willing to carry (be floor manager) for them. So I volunteered.

The Republican floor leader had a minor stroke when he learned I was carrying gay rights bills. He had only seven Republicans out of 40 senators. I was 27, single, and holding a seat I'd won by nine votes out of 60,000 cast. The common wisdom was that I was a one-term wonder who caught the incumbent senator vulnerable but couldn't be reelected.

I suspect that I may have been the first legislator in the country to speak for gay rights on the floor of a state legislature. McKinnon spoke for the bills after me. On the roll call, only six senators voted in favor--McKinnon, four other Democrats, and myself. And the bills were dead that year.

But I won the next election by 10,000 votes, carrying every city and town in my working-class Democratic district. More legislators decided that supporting antidiscrimination measures was a safe thing to do. Today, it's the law in Massachusetts--which strangely doesn't seem to have collapsed because of it or because of the gay marriage decision there last year.

Trust me, no true heterosexual wakes up and thinks, Hey, I'm really angry with my partner. I think I'll try dating someone from my own gender from now on. So who has destroyed traditional marriage in America?

How about men--and increasingly women--abusing their spouses? How about the heterosexual trend toward infidelity, led by the example of our highest elected leaders? How about men fathering and then abandoning children to poverty and state support? How about a large number of straight people deciding serial marriage and divorce is a cool lifestyle?

Doing something about those trends would really protect marriage.

The anti-same-sex-marriage amendment isn't going to help my marriage by so much as a red whisker. If you think it will protect your marriage or any marriage, that marriage is already shot.

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