Staff Editorial

On Tuesday, Wisconsin residents voted 59-41 to pass a referendum defining marriage as between a man and a woman in the Wisconsin constitution, and banning any status similar to marriage. We should be deeply ashamed.
This is not a partisan issue. We at The Lawrentian do not particularly endorse any one candidate, or, in general, any one issue. This, however, is not even an acceptable area for political debate. This is a declaration of alienation aimed squarely at the non-straight population.
To explain why we’re saying this, let’s dissect the issue. There are two pieces, the part banning marriages between any two people unless one is male and the other female, and the part banning any other marriage-like status.
The first part is fairly clear in its anti-gay agenda, but why does it bother? Gay marriage is already not allowed in Wisconsin. It’s just the majority demonstrating that if they choose, they have the strength to hurt the minority further. The second provision is similar: What purpose does it have except to deny rights to people who aren’t allowed marriage by the narrow definition in the first provision? The intention of this bill could not be clearer unless it also required non-straight citizens to wear special identifying marks.
But what is it that we deny to people when we deny them marriages and similar status? We deny them the right to file taxes jointly-that is, to act as an economic unit. We deny them the right to receive medical coverage through their partners, which for many means the right to receive health care. Most dehumanizing of all, we deny them the right to visit loved ones in the hospital. What sort of monsters are we that we would actively take steps to keep people from visiting their injured and ill loved ones?
Marriage is a civil institution. Yes, many religions have marriage as well as rituals and customs surrounding it, but none of those rituals or customs are mandated by federal or state law-except the particular one which forbids it to gays and lesbians. But at its heart, marriage in the United States is a civil institution, which carries with it civil rights and protections. We, the voters of Wisconsin, have chosen to bar certain citizens from obtaining this status on the basis of our religious convictions.
If some certain church is against gay marriage, they are within their rights not to acknowledge those marriages, and similarly, sensible people are within their rights to shun them for their intolerance. However, neither they nor any other citizen are within their rights to deny rights to others simply because the first group has certain fact-irrelevant beliefs about the second group. We should all be glad of this, since otherwise we might be passing acts that would forbid, say, Catholics from marrying and enjoying the civil privileges of that state.
In short, we have made a mistake, and a costly one. We are attempting to strip others of their freedom, and in the process we are stripping ourselves of our moral worth. Someday we will look back at this choice and wonder how the people of the past could have been so benighted. We can only hope that day is soon.

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