Box Turtle Bulletin

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Posts for November, 2012

Voters Send Record Number of LGBT Pols to Washington

Jim Burroway

November 7th, 2012

“Now, I am well aware that I will have the honor of being Wisconsin’s first woman senator. And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member,” Baldwin said to loud cheers and chants of “Tammy, Tammy!” from her supporters. “But I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”

Yesterday’s election was a watershed moment for LGBT equality. Not only did voters defeat attempts to deny marriage equality in four states at the ballot box, but a record number of LGBT representatives will be going to Washington to serve in Congress, including the nation’s first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin (D) from Wisconsin. With 99.6% of the vote counted, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) 1,528,941 (51.5%) to ,363,994 (45.9%).

Five other openly gay representatives have won their races for Congress. Returning to Congress are Jared Polis (D-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI). New gay members include Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Mark Pocan (D-WI). Pocan made history himself be becoming the first openly gay representative to take over a House seat from another openly gay representative when he won Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s old seat.

Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema (D) leads in a tight race over former Paradise Vally mayor Vernon Walker (R) to become the first openly bi member of Congress. All precincts have been reported, but there are still a number of provisional ballots to be counted, making a final call in that race impossible.

Click here to see the latest results for Congress.

Election Liveblog

Jim Burroway

November 6th, 2012

2:00 EST: One more thing:

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Retention Vote:
David Wiggins:
Yes (retain): 54% 
No: 46%
83% reporting.

NOM is having a very bad night. A historically bad night. I’m going to bed now and I will sleep very, very soundly.

1:39 EST: President Obama is now giving his victory speech. And with that, I’m going to sign off for the night. I will provide an update with the latest results again tomorrow morning.

1:30 EST: Here is a rundown of all of the LGBT-related races I’ve been following:

BALLOT MEASURES:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.2% √
No: 45.8%
58.1% reporting.

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.2% 
No: 48.1%
96.8% reporting.

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 49.2.5%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 49.2%
67.4% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 51.8.9%
No: 48.2%
49.9% reporting.

SENATE RACE:

Wisconsin:
Tammy Baldwin (D, openly lesbian): 51.2%
Tommy Thompson (R): 46.2.%
86.8% reporting.

CONGRESSIONAL RACES:

Arizona:
Kyrsten Sinema (D, openly bi): 47.4%
Vernon Parker (R): 46.3%
86% reporting.

California:
Mark Takano (D, openly gay): 54.4%
John Tavaglione (R): 45.6%
13% reporting.

Colorado:
Jared Polis (D, openly gay): 54.6%
Kevin Lundberg (R): 40.4%
45.3% reporting.

Massachusetts:
Richard Tisei (R, openly gay): 47.1%
John Tierney (D) 48.4%
98.3% reporting.

New York:
Sean Patrick Maloney (D, openly gay): 51.7%
Nan Hayworth (R): 48.3%
96.7% reporting.

Rhode Island:
David Cicilline (D, openly gay): 53.1%
Brendan Dohert (R): 40.7%
97.0% reporting

Wisconsin:
Mark Pocan (D, openly gay): 67.4%
Chad Lee (R): 32.6%
90.5% reporting.

12:55 EST: Gov. Mitt Romney is now giving a very classy consession speech, congratulating President Obama for his win.

12:50 EST: Here is a rundown of the ballot measures addressing same-sex marriage. Voters in two states have approved marriage equality. Voters in Washington are on their way to approving marriage equality, and Minnesota voters look poised to turn down a proposal to write a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. After voters in 30 states have written marriage equality bans into their state constitutions, we now have a remarkable turnaround in 2012. Remember this day.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54% 
No: 46%
51% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52% 
No: 48%
93% Reporting

Minnesota, Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 48.5%
Blanks: 3.7%
Yes: 47.9%
53% reporting.
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

Washington, Referendum 74: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 52%
No: 48%
50% reporting.

12:40 EST: Tammy Baldwin has now given her victory speech. With 79% reporting, she has defeated Gov. Tommy Thompson 51-47%, making her the first openly gay Senator in American history.

12:38 EST: Now I’m ready to call Maryland’s Question 6 a win for equality! With 92% reporting, Question 6 has passed 1,126,598 to 1,050,179 (52-48%) Maryland voters have joined those in Maine to approve marriage equality at the ballot box. I don’t know about you, but this really feels like a truly historic turning point.

12:30 EST: Colorado has now gone to Obama, bringing his lead to 290-201. There’s a lot of talk about whether Ohio was prematurely declared, but even if Ohio went red, this would still be Obama’s victory. An ugly one, especially if he doesn’t win the popular vote, but it is a win.

12:28 EST: Another gay congressman is headed to Washington. Sean Patrick Maloney (D) has defeated Rep. Nan Hayworth (R), 52%-48%.

12:15 EST: Believe it or not, Politico has had the results swapped between Question 6 and the “Illegal immigrant tuition” question all night long. For the love of god!!!  Question 6 is up, but only 52-48%, way too early to call.

12:00 EST: With 44.1% reporting in Maine, Question 1 is projected to win!

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 54.4%
No: 45.6%
44.1% Reporting

11:45 EST: With 81% reporting in Maryland, Question 6 is projected to win!

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
81% Reporting

11:31 EST: Remember James Hartline?

I took my Bible with me today and proudly honored God with my decisions. I refused to vote for the demonized Mormon Cultist Mitt Romney or Obama. Instead, like nearly two million other voters, I marked other and wrote in Jesus.

11:30 EST: Has Tammy Baldwin won her Senate race? Reuters called it, but right now with 53% reporting, she is only up 49-48%. She may yet win, but it looks like a lot of folks might have jumped the gun a bit.

11:23 EST: CNN has given Ohio to Obama. President Barack Obama, the most pro-gay president in American history, has been re-elected.

11:05 EST: A slew of new projections has put Obama on top 243-191. Ohio continues to lean toward Romney, but CNN is now mapping out multiple possibilities for Obama to win even without Ohio.

Here are the state marriage ballot measures. All of them are still looking good so far.

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 53%
No: 47%
30% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 58%
No: 42%
55% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 52%
Blanks: 3.8%
Yes: 45%
19% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:55 EST: Obama is now tied with Romney, 172-172. Ohio is leaning toward Obama, and FLorida and Virginia are very nearly tied so far. It’s going to be a long night.

10:35 EST: Great news so far in the three states with marriage on the ballot that are reporting:

Maine, Question 1: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 55%
No: 45%
16% Reporting

Maryland, Question 6: Allow same-sex marriage.
Yes: 60%
No: 40%
41% Reporting

Minnesota: Amendment 1: Same-sex marriage ban.
No: 57%
Blanks: 1.5%
Yes: 42%
7% Reporting
Remember: The Amendment needs to pass by more than half of all ballots cast. Blanks will be added to the “no” vote for the final tally.

10:25 EST. In Rhode Island, it looks like openly gay Rep. David Cicilline has defeated Republican challenger Brendan Doherty. With 82% reporting, Cicilline is ahead 50-44%.

In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei is trailing in his question to become the first openly gay Republican congressman. Rep. John Tierney is leading 49-47% with 58% reporting.

10:15 EST: We can celebrate Tammy Baldwin’s win now. Fox News is projecting that she will be the new fabulously openly lesbian Senator from Wisconsin. History is made!

Question 1 in Maine is now tightening. With 11% reporting, it is now up 53-47%.

10:00 EST: Mitt Romney has won his home state of Utah. But he lost New Hampshire

With 7% reporting, Question 1 is passing in Maine, 55-45%.

With 23% reporting, Question 6 is passing in Maryland, 61-39%.

With only 3% reporting, Amendment 1 is trailing in Minnesota. 61-38%, with about 1.5% of the ballots blank for the proposed amendment. Blank ballots are will be counted as no votes.

9:45 EST: CNN Projects Elizabeth Warren (D) has unseated Scott Brown (R) in Massachusetts, and JOe Donnelly (D) has defeated Richard Mourdock (R) in Indiana. God’s will, you know. These are both pick-ups for Dems.

9:42 EST: NBC and Fox have given Wisconsin to Obama. CNN has finally given Pennsylvania to Obama also.

9:35 EST: The Associated Press has declared Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) the winner in her Senate race against former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), making Baldwin the first openly gay Senator in U.S. history. Oops, take that back. The AP has NOT called for Baldwin.

9:20 EST: Fox called Pennsylvania for Obama. I’ll take it.

9:15 EST: Vote counts for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1 are excruciatingly slow. With 3% counted in Maine, Question 1 is trailing 4,253-5,362. In Maryland, Question 6 is passing 192,860-157,767 with only 1% of the vote counted. Obviously with vote tallies this low, it’s way to early to see any trends.

9:00 EST: Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Last polls close in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Texas. And with it, a whole slew of new projecitons, mostly lining up with expectations. So far, it looks like the red states are going heavily red, while the blue states are slower to come in. Right now, Romney is up 152-123.

CNN says that the Republicans will hold on to the House. Obama is getting a lot of grief for not campaigning in key House races on behalf of Democratic candidates.

8:50 EST: Alabama is red. Romney is up 82-64.

People are still in line in Florida and Virginia, even as polls have officially closed. Those who are in line will get to vote. Twitter hashtag #stayinline is now trending upward. It sure would have been nice if someone had mentioned to Florida and Virginia election officials that they were supposed to be ready for an election today.

8:30 EST: Polls just closed in Arkansas, which CNN has called for Romney. CNN has also called Tennessee as well, putting Romney ahead 73-64.

So far, only about 1% of the results are in for Maryland’s Question 6 and Maine’s Question 1, which means that there aren’t enough results to talk about yet.

8:25 EST: In the Senate races, it looks like the Angus King, the independent candidate for Maine’s Senator to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) is headed to Washington. He hasn’t said which party he will caucus with, but most observers expect that he will caucus with the Dems. Another possible pickup for the Dems might be Joe Donnelly, who is leading Richard Mourdock by 50-44% with 30% of the votes counted. Mourdock, you may recall, got in trouble during the debate when he said that when a child is born as a result of rape, it’s God’s will.

8:16 EST: Georgia now goes to Romney, bringing the EC count to 64-56 for Obama.

8:00 EST: Polls have now closed in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee.

CNN has called a Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for Obama, and Oklahoma for Romney. This puts Obama up 64-40 in the Electoral College, with Maine splitting its vote 3-1 for Obama. (Nebraska is the only other state that is not winner-take-all in the Electoral College.)

Virginia officially closed but:

Polls closed in Virginia at 7 p.m. ET, but with long lines at polling places around the state — and those in line still able to vote — the state is delaying counting votes so as not to unduly influence those still waiting in line. Smart move.

7:43 EST: CNN has now called South Carolina and West Virginia for Romney. Not much of a surprise. It’s now Romney, 33-3 in the electoral count.

Polls close in Maryland and Maine at 8:00. Hopefully we’ll start to get an early look at the marriage ballot measures in those states soon after.

7:30 EST: Polls have now closed in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. CNN’s exit poll has Obama up by 3 in Ohio and tied in North Carolina.

7:19 EST: CNN has called Kentucky for Romney, and Vermont for Obama, which means that Romney leads the electoral college count 8-3. And we’re off!

7:00 EST: Polls have closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. First results will probably begin within the half hour. Here are the races I’ll be watching, in addition to the presidential election and any others you think I should keep an eye out for.

Consider the comments thread for this post an open thread, which I’ll be watching for whatever tips you have. And jokes. We may need some jokes. Or videos of cute kittens. Whatever you got. You can also email them by hitting the Contact Us link on the sidebar.

Gay GOP supporter bashing a hoax

Timothy Kincaid

October 29th, 2012

It turns out that the bashing of Ryan Wood, as reported by Daily Caller, was a hoax. Over the past day Mr. Wood ratcheted up his claims, asserting that he had been threatened in a series of emails by Philip Frank, the partner of Mark Pocan, the Democratic opponent of the candidate that Wood was supporting.

Kyle Wood, a campaign worker for the Republican congressional candidate Chad Lee, today recanted his statements about being assaulted and choked at his home on Oct. 24, according to Madison police.

The department updated its incident report late Monday afternoon after Wood met with detectives.

Captain Joe Balles, commander of the South District, confirms that Wood recanted his allegations of the beating.

Although he would not go into detail about the case, Balles said, “I updated that press release because I felt it was imperative we get something out there because of the politically charged background this was happening in.”

This is a sad thing. There simply is no winner today. Someone in our community has behaved abominably, has taken the compassion of better people and sought to use it for political advantage. And in the process he hurt a number of people.

He hurt his campaign. Mr. Lee, who put out a press release condemning the attack, now looks like a fool and will lose support from many who will assume that this was a campaign tactic used with his knowledge and approval.

He hurt the political process. These sort of stupid tactics bring down the image of all of those who seek to serve the public. They make the nobility of democracy seem cheap and tawdry.

He hurt Mark Pocan. Of course Pocan wants to win, but he doesn’t want to win on these terms. He wants to take his place in Congress holding the support of the constituents for his articulated positions, not because he opponent was disgraced by a volunteer.

He hurt other gay Republicans. Those who look for reasons to think that gay Republicans are despicable have now found another one.

And he hurt our community. Those who look for reasons to think that all gay people are despicable will not differentiate between parties. In fact, the same anti-gay activists who have been screaming all weekend about how the gay community are intolerant will be giddy with delight at the opportunity to say we are all liars.

And he hurt himself. Iit is also likely that there will be some legal repercussions to this behavior. But worse for Mr. Wood is the personal hurt he has enacted on himself. Not only has he lost the trust or respect of those who know him, but he’s lost his own claim on integrity. And things of this sort take a toll on one’s soul. The mirror is never so kind again.

Last week we said that “Regardless of where we stand on the election of various candidates or our opinions about those who support them, all of us at Box Turtle Bulletin condemn the attack described in the story in no uncertain terms.” That remains true – except that the attack described in the story didn’t happen.

And now we are again united in condemning the extremely irresponsible action of Kyle Wood. That is never, EVER, an acceptable behavior.

Gay GOP volunteer bashing story gets tentative coverage

Timothy Kincaid

October 26th, 2012

Everyone is – wisely, I think – going slow with the story about Kyle Wood, the gay volunteer for Wisconsin GOP congressional nominee Chad Lee. But the local news station has this report:

WMTV – NBC15 Madison, Wisconsin:

Also Watchdog.org hosted an somewhat breathless interview. I’m not able to immediately determine where watchdog falls on the political spectrum, but consider that, like most sources, it may have bias.

[Update: looking at watchdog's blog suggests a strong conservative bias so read their article with that in mind]

[NOTE: this incident reported by Kyle Wood was not true]

Daily Caller: Gay GOP supporter hospitalized after beating

Timothy Kincaid

October 25th, 2012

Last week Kyle Wood, a full-time volunteer working for GOP House candidate Chad Lee, had his car vandalized. (Daily Caller)

The vandalism included the phrases “house trained republican faggot,” “traitor,” and “ur like a jew 4 hitler.”

Those slurs, he explained, were references to him being a gay Republican working to help Lee, a straight GOP candidate, defeat the openly gay Democrat Mark Pocan.

Wood turned to his facebook page to respond in an open letter to the vandal: “If you understand either freedom or me at all, you would that this will only make me work harder. … You can think whatever you like about me, but I will not be bullied into voting for a gay man simply because I am gay.” The seat is the one being vacated by lesbian Tammy Baldwin in her bid for US Senate.

Yesterday, his critic responded in person.

“I was getting ready for work and there was a knock at the door,” Wood emailed The Daily Caller late Wednesday. “I opened it, and a guy wrapped a ligature around my neck, slammed my head into the doorway, and smashed my face into a mirror, telling me ‘You should have kept your [f*******] mouth shut.’”

“He then kidney-punched me, while at the same time saying I was ‘warned,’ and continued to beat me,” he added.

Wood was unable to move the right side of his body immediately following Wednesday morning’s assault. He was transported by ambulance to Meriter Hospital in Madison. His eyes were swollen shut by the beating, and he suffered a concussion along with neck and head lacerations.

The source of this story is a conservative website. However, there is an incident report filed with the police on the matter.

Regardless of where we stand on the election of various candidates or our opinions about those who support them, all of us at Box Turtle Bulletin condemn the attack described in the story in no uncertain terms. This is never, EVER, an acceptable response.

Cardinal Dolan Authorized Payments to Pedophile Priests

Jim Burroway

May 31st, 2012

The New York Times reports that New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan authorized as much as $20,000 to pedophile priests in his previous post as Archbishop of Milwaukee. Reports of those payments first surfaced while he was still in Milwaukee, but he denied the allegations, calling them “false, preposterous and unjust.” But now that documentation of those payments have come to light in the wake of the Milwaukee Archdiocese’s bankruptcy proceedings, Dolan is changing his tune:

A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed on Wednesday that payments of as much as $20,000 were made to “a handful” of accused priests “as a motivation” not to contest being defrocked. The process, known as “laicization,” is a formal church juridical procedure that requires Vatican approval, and can take far longer if the priest objects.

“It was a way to provide an incentive to go the voluntary route and make it happen quickly, and ultimately cost less,” said Jerry Topczewski, the spokesman for the archdiocese. “Their cooperation made the process a lot more expeditious.”

…A victims advocacy group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sent a letter of protest to the current archbishop of Milwaukee on Wednesday asking, “In what other occupation, especially one working with families and operating schools and youth programs, is an employee given a cash bonus for raping and sexually assaulting children?”

Since moving to his new post in New York, Dolan has become a national crusader against marriage equality because we’re a danger to families.

Living In A Post-Tucson World

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2011

Jeffrey Cox, Indiana deputy Attorney General responded to a report that riot police may be used to clear protesters from the Wisconsin Capital building, tweeted “Use live ammunition.”  You know, just like Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi. When challenged on his statement, Cox doubled down:

Cox remained steadfast in his position that the protestors should be killed when confronted on Twitter by Mother Jones’ Adam Weinstein, writing that “against thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor? You’re damn right I advocate deadly force.” (There have been no reports that the protestors have physically threatened any elected officials).

Meanwhile, posters at Free Republic are calling on counter-protesters to an Atlanta pro-labor rally to arrive “with the usual accoutrements” because “the lefties are idiots who are very good at running their mouths… and also very good at keeping their distance from an armed American.”

Update: Cox was canned.

Couple recognition, state by state

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:

Marriage
on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:

Massachusetts
Connecticut
Iowa
Vermont
New Hampshire
District of Columbia

Civil Unions
– a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:

New Jersey
Illinois

Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population

California
Oregon
Washington
Nevada

Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population

Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships

In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.

Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.

Parade Commodore to 14-year-old Girl: “Go To A Country Where They Hang People Like You”

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2010

The reigning “Riverfest commodore” for a La Crosse, Wisconsin, annual festival reportedly shoved a 14-year-old girl who was carrying two rainbow flags just before a parade on Saturday.

According to the La Crosse Tribune, the girl was rollerblading and carring two gay pride flags as part of the Seven Rivers LGBT Resource Center’s float when the ugly encounter occurred:

Commodore Mark Schneider, who was on a float nearby, approached the girl and put his hands on the flagpole, [the LGBT center's Executive Director Rosanne] St. Sauver said. St. Sauver walked over, placed her hands on the pole and told him, “Please stop, she’s a 14-year-old child.”

“He said, ‘I do not care. Look what you are teaching them,’” St. Sauver said.

That’s when, St. Sauver said, Schneider shoved the girl with his body.

St. Sauver said Schneider told the girl: “Go to a country where they will hang people like you.“

The incident left the teen crying, and others upset, St. Sauver said. This is the first year the center has participated in the parade.

Schneider denies shoving the teen or making offensive comments. Schneider claimed that his objections were to the alterations to one of the two flags. One of the flags’s design was based on the American flag with the red and white stripes substituted for rainbow stripes.

Schneider has been cited for disorderly conduct. He has since apologized for the confrontation. The Riverfest president, Mike Schieber, and the LGBT center president Kathryn Heitbrink have written a joint statement following a meeting yesterady evening:

Mark Schneider, Riverfest Commodore for 2010 offered his personal apology to Emily St. Sauver and others that might have been affected for events that happened that day. This apology was accepted with the understanding that both organizations will collaborate to promote La Crosse and the surrounding community as a safe place for all people, where all members of the community can be celebrated.”

With all the craziness we’ve seen over the past two weeks, it’s good to see at least one incident come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Wisconsin ban on all couple recognition upheld by state supreme court

Timothy Kincaid

June 30th, 2010

In 2006, Wisconsin voters passed (59% – 41%) the following referendum:

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.

This was challenged in court under the argument that this referendum actually addressed two issues rather than one as is required: 1) shall marriage be banned, 2) shall civil unions be banned. Supporters of gay couples argued that those who wished to ban marriage but allow civil unions did not have an option.

Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced their decision (Grand Forks Herald)

The court’s 7-0 ruling concluded that the constitutional amendment was properly put to voters in a statewide referendum in 2006. Justices rejected a lawsuit that claimed the amendment violated a rule limiting constitutional amendments to a single subject.

Court: Wisconsin gay parents don’t have rights

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Wisconsin appeals court says gay parents do not have full parental rights when it comes to their adopted children.

The court ruled Thursday against a woman who was seeking guardianship of two adopted children for whom she acted as a stay at home mother for years.

Cuz it’s in the interest of the kids, ya know.

Sigh.

Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2010

US Map

About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.

Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.

There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).

But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.

In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.

For Halloween, these Sheboygan residents were Blithering Idiots

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2009

It seems that common sense wasn’t very common in Sheboygan, WI, this Halloween. In fact, it was missing altogether.

For fun, let’s see how many really stupid decisions we can count in this story.

The incident began Oct. 31 when [a 20 year-od gay man] told police he was at [Julia] Laack’s house, 1603 S. 13th St., drinking heavily with the three adults and several other juveniles.

He said at one point a 15-year-old boy pulled him into a bathroom to ask if he was gay, and he said yes, but nothing else happened. The boy told police the two hugged after the 20-year-old told him he was the best-looking guy in the house and he would like to take him home.

Oh but it gets worse.

laack

Laack saw the two together in the bathroom, and she confronted the victim when he was back at the house drinking with the group Nov. 3.

The victim said Laack told him what happened in the bathroom is wrong and he shouldn’t get away with it, saying, “You are going to get us money for this.” Tibbs said they should “just kill” him.

Laack later told police the victim was told he could pay money, get beaten up or have his actions reported to police. The victim said he was confused and tried to leave, but Laack blocked the door and Tibbs said blood would be shed if he tried to leave again.

Wow. I think I lost track of how many truly abysmal choices were made.

The 20 year old then contacted police who recorded the next demand for payment. And now Julia E. Laack, Ethan T. Massey and Bret A. Tibbs are facing multiple extortion charges.

Wisconsin to Keep Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2009

On this day that we mourn the loss of equality in one state, we can rejoice that another has had a victory in its efforts to provide some measure of protection to its gay citizens.

In 2006, Wisconsin voters passed a constitutional amendment by 59%-41% which banned both same-sex marriage and “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage”. And anti-gay activists rejoiced, believing that this ensured that lifelong committed gay couples would be denied any and all rights that were given willy-nilly to any six times divorced, drunken Vegas chapel, heterosexual couple.

But in June, the governor signed a budget which included the authorization of a registry for domestic partners and which granted a very limited number of specific rights.

Determined that gay couples should not be allowed to enjoy hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, joint tenancy rights, and the ability to take Family Medical Leave (FMLA) to care for a sick/injured partner or non-biological/non-adopted child, anti-gay activists sued claiming that such a registry violated the “no rights for gay people” clause of the state constitution.

And they appealed directly to the state supreme court, hoping that such protections could be denied promptly. The Wisconsin Supreme Court did not grant their wish. (KSTP)

The state Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s domestic partner registry.

The court offered no explanation in an order issued Tuesday.

But while this is a victory for decency and equality, it is not settled. They can still go through the process of trial court and appeals.

Congrats, Wisconsin Couples

Timothy Kincaid

August 3rd, 2009

Today is the day that Wisconsin same-sex couples can register as domestic partners. Most of the small list of rights and benefits deal with health care or probate issues. (Capital Times)

The extension of health care benefits to same-sex couples is one highlight of the registry. Other perks include the ability for same-sex couples to inherit their partner’s property or other assets, even if they do not have a will. Without these protections, the property and other assets of gay men and lesbians without a will would go to their parents or siblings — not their significant other — at the time of death.

What to bring if you plan to register: Couples must provide proof of residence, certified copies of their birth certificates and their Social Security numbers. For those who have been previously married, a certified death certificate or divorce judgment is required. The fee is also the same as for a marriage license, $115 in cash per couple in Dane County.

Who qualifies for the registry: Two individuals must be at least 18 years old, be of the same gender, share a common residence, not be nearer of kin than second cousins, and not be married or in another domestic partnership.

This day is historic in that Wisconsin became the first midwestern state to grant recognition of same-sex couples by legislation and it is the first state with a clause banning “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage” to offer any limited recognition at all.

Anti-gays, of course, have sued to stop gay people from being able to cover their loved ones on their health insurance or visit them in the hospital. It’s not that they hate you, want to make your life as difficult as possible, or see you as an enemy in a culture war. Oh no, they just want to protect marriage, you see.

Wisconsin Gets Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2009

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed the state budget into law today. That budget includes provisions for a Domestic Partnership registry to provide protections for same-sex couples as well as insurance rights for State employees. Protections include hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, joint tenancy rights, and the ability to take Family Medical Leave (FMLA) to care for a sick/injured partner or non-biological/non-adopted child.

Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

June 18th, 2009

In 2006, voters in Wisconsin passed the following amendment to their state constitution:

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.

The second part of that amendment effectively bans the creation of civil unions or of domestic partnership agreements that are “identical or substantially similar to that of marriage”. However, as part of the budget process, the State Senate and Assembly have passed language (pdf 1,743 pages), at the request of the Governor, that establishes domestic partnerships within the state.

The domestic partnerships are dissimilar to marriage in that while marriage requires a license and the performance of a specific ceremony, domestic partnerships are recognized by means of a registry:

Under the bill, a domestic partnership may be formed by two individuals who are at least 18 years old, are not married or in another domestic partnership, share a common residence, are not nearer of kin than second cousins, and are members of the same sex.

To form a domestic partnership, the individuals apply for a declaration of domestic partnership to the county clerk of the county in which at least one of them has resided for at least 30 days. Each applicant must submit identification and a certified copy of his or her birth certificate, as well as any other document affecting the domestic partnership status, such as a death certificate or a certificate of termination of domestic partnership. The clerk must then issue a declaration of domestic partnership, which the parties must complete and submit to the register of deeds of the county in which they reside. The register of deeds must record the declaration and send the original to the state registrar of vital statistics.

The domestic partnerships receive certain specific rights which are similar to those granted by marriage:

  • Inheritance Rights:
    • Inherit if intestate or if the will was written before registration
    • Full property interest the decedent had in a home
    • Inherit partner’s interest in a boat
    • The rights to probate court and summary procedures
    • Exemptions for certain personal items and for limited exemptions from the estate’s creditors
    • Inherit wages due from an employer
  • Wrongful death actions and death benefits under workers compensation
  • The right to bar former partners from testifying about private communications
  • Employment Benefits:
    • The right to family leave to care for a domestic partner
    • Pension benefits provided to public employees
    • Fraternal benefit society may provide insurance coverage to domestic partners
    • Local governments may provide health and life insurance for domestic partners
    • Protection in state government employment from arbitrary discrimination based on domestic partner status.
  • Joint tenancy rights in property

While these are far fewer rights than come with marriage, they will not be of insignificant benefit to same-sex Wisconsin couples. The budget has differences between the House and Senate versions which will be hammered out but domestic partnerships are likely to survive and to be signed by Governor Doyle.

Wisconsin Senate Approves Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 17th, 2009

The Wisconsin Senate approved this year’s controversial budget by a very tight vote of 17-16. Tucked in that budget was a provision to provide for a Domestic Partnership registry. Among the very limited benefits of Domestic Partnerships include provisions for jointly owning property, hospital visitation rights and inheritance. Domestic partners of state employees would also be eligible to receive the same state retirement and health insurance benefits as spouses.

The State Assembly passed the budget last week with the same Domestic Partnership provisions by a vote of 50-48. There, the registry endured a separate 50-48 vote to remain a part of the budget. The budget now goes to a conference committee to iron out differences before final approval in both houses and the governor’s signature.

If domestic partnerships become law, Wisconsin would be the first state with an existing constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and civil unions to provide domestic partnership protections for same-sex couples.

Wisconsin Assembly Passes Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2009

The Wisconsin Assembly pulled an all-nighter overnight to finally pass a budget in the early hours of Saturday morning. That 50-48 party line vote by the Democrat-controlled Assembly for the $62.2 billion budget also included important policy changes, including the establishment of a Domestic Partnership registry for same-sex couples. Among the very limited benefits of Domestic Partnerships include provisions for jointly owning property, hospital visitation rights and inheritance. Domestic partners of state employees would also be eligible to receive the same state retirement and health insurance benefits as spouses.

The budget will now go to the Senate, which is expected to vote on it sometime next week.

If domestic partnerships become law, Wisconsin would be the first state with an existing constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions to provide domestic partnership protections for same-sex couples.

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