Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Trust Us, We're Republicans
Repugs in the Wisconsin Legislature took the last step yesterday to put the same-sex marriage Constitutional amendment onto the November ballot. I count six Democrats who crossed over to vote for it: Mary Hubler from Rice Lake, Peggy Krusick from Milwaukee, Tony Staskunas from West Allis, Terry Van Akkeren from Sheboygan, Annette P. Williams from Milwaukee, and Bob Ziegelbauer from Manitowoc. One Republican, Gregg Underheim of Oshkosh, voted against it.

The debate in the Assembly yesterday provided more head-scratching stupidity from Representative Mark Gundrum, who's the amendment's main pusher. Responding to openly gay Representative Mark Pocan's claim that the bill would "hurt real families" by limiting things like domestic partner benefits or domestic violence law enforcement, Gundrum called that a "red herring," and claimed that the law's effect would be much narrower.

This is, of course, bullshit. The law is going to do exactly what Pocan says it will do--which is why it bans domestic partner benefits in the first place--and Gundrum has to know it. If he doesn't, he is, perhaps, an even bigger idiot than he already seems.

Madison legal blogger Ann Althouse notes the hypocrisy inherent in the amendment-backers' claims that the amendment won't mean what Pocan rightly says it will mean.
We will see these individuals [who are going to be stripped of existing domestic-partner benefits] in the TV ads, and the other side will be reduced to arguing that the language of the amendment doesn't really mean that. Trust us, they will say. Trust the courts to interpret the language of the amendment so that it won't mean the bad thing the gay rights groups are saying it will mean. You hypocrites! The argument for the amendment was that we can't trust the courts not to find rights for gay people in the unamended state constitution.
If the goal of the amendment is to stop activist judges from finding stuff in law that isn't there (Gundrum: "If we didn't live in a world of activist judges, this wouldn't be here"), it's hard to imagine how Althouse could be wrong.

Representative Gundrum was on the floor of the Legislature yesterday fighting valiantly to save marriage as we know it, despite the fact that his wife was home giving birth to the couple's fifth child. Seems to me being at your wife's side for the delivery would be the good-family-values thing to do, but perhaps hating gay people is more important. Of course, the Gundrums now have five kids under the age of seven, so if it were me, I guess I'd spend as much time as possible at work, too.

Indexing: I love me some Harper's Index. Part of the charm of it is the weird, backward way some of the entries unspool. Another part of it is the odd statistics Harper's researchers often find, and the subtle commentary they often make on current affairs. Take this example, from the March Index: "Minimum number of times that Frederick Douglass was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld's vacation home: 25." Harper's Index is also is one of the most widely copied features in the history of publishing. But funny is funny, and Witsend Here has its own Index for the month just concluded.

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