Today’s Vote in Wisconsin

(This is an email I recently sent out to just about everyone I could think of.)

Hello. I am sending this email out to a very wide range of folks I know. Some of you I have known for many years, yet we have not ever discussed politics. Some of you I don’t yet know very well at all… and with some of you I’ve already discussed these issues ad nauseum. =)

You may disagree entirely with my politics, and vice versa. Certainly I do apologize if any offense is taken by what I say here, and I thank you for your time to read this.

While I do generally vote (and when I do, I have in the past had no particular leaning to either major party), I have never canvassed for any candidate or cause before, nor ever sent out an email such as this (and I do not do so lightly).

However, today there is an issue on our ballot which I believe is much more important than which career politician is going to be our congressman, attorney general, or state coroner.

It is being pitched by the Republicans as the Gay Marriage Amendment, but it goes much further than that. The entire text of the amendment to the state constitution is:

"Marriage. Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state?"

What I would like to point out about this:

– Gay marriage is already illegal in Wisconsin; it will still be illegal even without this amendment (and with conservative control of both houses of the state legislature, this is not likely to change any time soon). Do we need to write discrimination into our constitution?

– This will also affect STRAIGHT couples NOW – unmarried couples will lose health care benefits, death and dying rights, and even domestic violence protections.

– This means that civil unions will never be possible. Even of those folks who think gay marriage shouldn’t be legal, most don’t have a problem with civil unions of some sort… this prevents that entirely!

– Marriage as an institution is not under attack. No church would ever be forced to allow gay marriage under their purview. A couple forming a civil union does not invalidate or threaten straight couples’ marriages. It does not make marriage as an institution any less real or important in our society. A civil union is only to allow those families who love each other have the ability to take care of each other. Passing this amendment will prevent that, most likely forever, in Wisconsin (no amendment has been overturned in WI).

This is a chance for your vote to make a real difference. This will be a close one, and even in places (like Dane County) where there is heavy opposition to the amendment, a vote against it still helps since the vote is statewide.

Please vote NO!

Secondly, this is perhaps less urgent, but also be aware there is a non-binding referendum on the ballot to bring back the death penalty.

While it is non-binding, I think it would be a real shame if we in Wisconsin allowed this to pass. Only one man has ever been executed by the state, and that was in 1851. We banned the death penalty in 1858 (only 10 years after we became a state!), a time in which the death penalty was commonplace elsewhere in the country, and in the world.

While certainly I want murderers, rapists, and molesters to pay for their crimes, even with DNA evidence, we can never be 100% sure of someone’s guilt. Eye witnesses are not infallible… neither is DNA evidence, and neither are juries.

Illinois to our south has shown what can happen. There is no doubt that many innocent people have been put to death there in punishment for horrible crimes… but they sent the wrong man to die, and no matter how much technology advances, we can never be completely certain.

By sentencing someone to life in prison, we can always correct the problem if an innocent man is convicted. When we execute someone, we have no way to correct the injustice.

Let’s not go back to 1857. Think about our country then.

Slavery was legal.
Women could not vote.
The death penalty existed.

All three of these are barbaric and shouldn’t be a part of the modern world, least of all here in Wisconsin.

Please vote against the death penalty.

If you have any questions or comments about what I have said, I am more than willing to discuss this matter with you. I do believe all I have said here is true… and I think many who are in favor of the marriage amendment have been misrepresenting the facts.

Also note that in most places, these issues are on the BACK of the ballot, so don’t forget to turn it over when you vote.

Thank you for your time.

johnS