Wisconsin State Journal gets gay!

Wisconsin State Journal, June 8, 2014The Wisconsin State Journal offers a nice editorial celebrating the sudden ability of same-sex partners to marry in Wisconsin. The news pages, too, had extensive and upbeat coverage of couples seizing the moment to marry, including this really heart-warming photo of Todd Kinsman and Ravi Manghnani outside the Madison City-County Building. And, of course, other pictures…

So, way to go, Wisconsin State Journal.

And, while we’re at it, let’s jump into the Way Back Machine and revisit the State Journal’s editorial stance eight years ago. Hey, that too was pretty good. In 2006, when conservatives had gleefully glommed onto “traditional” marriage as another cynically exploitable wedge issue, the State Journal actually got it right. In a strong editorial they argued against amending the Wisconsin constitution to prohibit same sex marriage.

Of course, that argument was lost later that year, as the people of Wisconsin approved the constitutional amendment (59%-41%) banning same-sex marriage. (Or even anything like it, no matter what it was called.)

That was a day for shame and regret. A solid majority of Wisconsinites voted to harm a harmless minority of fellow citizens. We might just as well have voted that Mormons shouldn’t marry, or left-handers. It was simple prejudice, inflamed by [some] preachers and [some] political interests. And now eight years later the fever is breaking.

But let’s not feel too good about this yet. The celebration has broken out only because of a court ruling, and by a federal judge, appointed by Jimmy Carter. Meanwhile our state remains entirely under the control of people who do not blink when they need to harm the harmless for their own political purposes. Look what they’ve done refusing Medicaid for the poor. Look what they did to teachers. Look what they did to voters (well, you know, “those” voters). Wisconsin’s Attorney General remains committed to wasting our money defending this deeply regrettable worse than pointless clause in our constitution.

The Wisconsin State Journal earned the right to crow a little about forbidden marriages breaking out now in Wisconsin. They earned the right when they spoke out in 2006. We’d love to say that sort of thing more often.

Now they didn’t manage to name the bad guys in this saga. That’s not the way we’d have played it. But just looking forward is OK for a day. And they get completely carried away when they say

Gay marriage isn’t going away because the public is committed to fairness.

You’d hope. But the public isn’t “committed to fairness” in any permanent way. It wasn’t so committed in 2006, and it remains divided. See the May 21st Marquette Law School Poll where support for gay marriage varies by which set of questions is posed (i.e., posed to the same people). We’d like to think this battle for progress is over. It seems, however, that nothing is ever really over.