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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Will Wisconsin Be Left in the Dust?

Thanks very much to Jay Bullock for inviting me to guest blog this week. My usual gig is with the No on the Amendment campaign.

I can't help but comment on some hopeful international developments.

While we continue to debate whether Wisconsin should permanently ban civil unions and marriage for gay couples, the rest of the world keeps moving forward.

This week, hundreds of lesbian and gay couples in the U.K. lined up to register for a new “civil partnership” that offers many of the protections of marriage. Prime Minister Tony Blair celebrates this historic moment with a column in the Independent. He also took time at a press conference to congratulate Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, who registered their 11-year partnership yesterday. Blair said, “I wish him and David well, and all the other people exercising their rights under the civil partnerships law. I think it is a modern, progressive step for the country, and I am proud we did it."

A New York Times reporter takes a witty look at the event, interviewing a few people on the street near the ceremony who seemed to echo the sentiments of Rita Divico, 59, who said, "If that's what they want to do, it's up to them. If it makes them happy, carry on."

The Czech Republic took a step toward equality this week when the lower house of parliament approved a law to allow for civil partnerships.

And just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court of South Africa ruled that banning gay couples from marriage violates that nation’s constitution. It is expected that South African gay couples will be able to legally marry by next year.

Even in conservative Austria, Justice Minister Karin Gastinger, a member of the center-right Alliance for the Future of Austria, is proposing legally recognized partnership for gay couples.

A growing number of nations—like Spain and Canada—already offer either equal marriage rights or some form of civil union. For a look at the national and international landscape, check out this webpage.

When it comes to guaranteeing civil rights and civil liberties for all citizens--or for that matter, being a serious economic player in the global marketplace--Wisconsin is going to be left in the dust unless all of us work hard to stop the proposed civil unions and marriage ban in 2006.

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