Last edited: November 23, 2003

Letter: State Lags Nation in Protecting Gay Rights

The Post-Crescent, July 12, 2003
Box 59, Appleton, WI 54912
Fax: 414-733-1945

On June 26, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down sodomy laws across the country as unconstitutional invasions of privacy.

The sweeping decision serves as a huge victory by recognizing that states can no longer brand gay people criminals or “deviants” under the guise of “morality.”

The court proclaimed that “a law branding one class of persons as criminal solely based on the state’s moral disapproval of that class ... runs contrary to the values of the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause”—a historic civil rights ruling that will pave the road to greater freedom and fairness for gay and lesbian Americans.

While this is an amazing victory, we still have work to do.

In 1982, Wisconsin passed the first gay and lesbian civil rights law in the nation, but since then, progress has been almost nonexistent, to the point where we now lag behind many states in securing equal rights for gay residents.

In recent years, bills consistently introduced to establish a statewide domestic partnership program and to expand insurance to domestic partners of state employees have languished, often without even a hearing, despite the fact that a recent independent poll found 76 percent of Wisconsinites support “equal treatment under the law” for gays and lesbians.

Despite the public’s support, same-sex couples and their families are denied access to hundreds of critical benefits granted to married heterosexual couples under state law, including the ability to visit a dying partner in the hospital and the right to adopt your partner’s child.

We cannot wait another 17 years for vindication. The time has come to act, and realize equality for all in Wisconsin.

—Aaron Hulse, Menasha []

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