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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Definition of marriage an individual concern

I hear a lot about gay rights as a student in Madison but the discussion is almost exclusively one- sided. The newspapers, the administration, multiple campus groups—everyone seems to be pushing for equal recognition of same-sex partnerships here at the UW. While we live in a hotbed of activism and support for homosexuals, our state did ban gay marriage. Not in the legislature but in a public vote: no matter how loud Madison cries, the silent majority closed the books on this issue in Wisconsin.

Clearly gay activists have the loudest voices, but they do not have the law or the support of the people on their side. When our administration pushes for partner benefits for staff and faculty, no one can argue they are supporting the desires of the Wisconsin people. If the gay community and their supporters wish to make progress toward earning equal rights in this state, they are going to have to switch tactics from trying to overpower and shame the rest of the state into compliance and start trying to understand why they are being opposed.

To outsiders, calls for gay marriage and civil unions seem like a desire to have gay behavior validated. Many Wisconsinites feel like gays and lesbians are looking for a state-sponsored rubber stamp to elevate their partnerships to the level of credibility given to same-sex marriages. Living in an overwhelmingly Christian area, many people are not willing to approve or support behavior they disagree with. For them, marriage isn't a state institution to begin with; it is a religious, self-validating union that doesn't need the approval of anyone but those involved and God.

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If Christian Wisconsinites had voted to approve gay marriage, they would be saying that a vote or the government has the authority to validate marriage. That would have meant that the marriage certificate, provided by the court house, would be more important than the ceremony and vows which took place in the church.

To move forward, homosexuals and their supporters have to recognize the fact that the true reason most of Wisconsin stands against them is because they see marriage as an institution the state cannot interfere with. Once they realize this fact, getting equal rights becomes much easier. Why not run an ad addressing this fact? If marriage is a religious institution, no one can really stop gays and lesbians from being married. Finding a sympathetic church, creating a church, even marrying yourself on a beach is no problem. No one needs to have the reality of their relationship, whether gay or straight, recognized by anyone else to make it real. Letting the public know gay rights aren't about getting something they already have will take the public off the defensive. If they were really honest with themselves, Wisconsin Christians wouldn't even want their own marriages validated by the state; it is insulting to think that the state could tell us who is married and who isn't. Where does the constitution give the government power over our love lives?

With the focus off of marriage and the emphasis of what validates a lifelong partnership placed back into the hands of individuals, LGBT groups will be unhindered to push for equal protection under the law. A focus on the rights that would allow equality for non-traditional relationships doesn't have to be about the homosexual community. The pain of not being allowed to see a loved one in the hospital or being able to share health insurance with someone who depends on you is not a solely homosexual concern. Being able to file a joint tax return or will savings to whom we choose are issues that will resonate with all of Wisconsin.

By focusing on individual rights and issues that apply a broader audience of citizens, gays and lesbians will win the hearts of the public while avoiding the hypocrisy of asking for equal rights for themselves but leaving other groups, such as polygamists, equally discriminated against. In its core the Christian public knows that the state shouldn't be marrying anyone. It should be giving equal protection to all its citizens.

Andrew Carpenter is a senior majoring in communication arts and psychology. Please send feedback to








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