As a result of the Nov. 2 election, Wisconsin will soon be taken over by Republicans. This change is not going to be good for multiple constituencies in the state, and certainly not for the LGBT community. The last time the Republicans ran the Legislature they brought us the constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. Their agenda would have been even more damaging without Jim Doyle as governor. But now, with Republicans preparing to control every single lever of power in state government, we should anticipate a major push backward on equality and many other key issues important to the LGBT community.
Most of the people elected to state office on Nov. 2 were not simply Republicans but extreme conservatives. In what is hardly a coincidence, the state’s top gay-hating group, the Wisconsin Family Council, endorsed many of the victorious. These winners were not endorsed by that group because they plan to be kind to the LGBT community.
Despite the delusional hopes of some gay Republicans, Governor-elect Scott Walker has repeatedly said that he would take away the rights afforded to LGBT families through the state’s domestic partnership registry. He also promised to end the domestic partner benefits now available for state employees. Some of these regressive and mean-spirited plans were further confirmed after the election. Although most of them campaigned on jobs and the economy, the soon-to-be Republican leaders have already listed going back on equality as one of their top priorities.
Yet another outcome of having a complete Republican takeover of Madison will be drastic cuts to programs that are critical to the community. Republicans up and down the ticket promised major tax breaks to the richest Wisconsinites and the business elite. At a time when the state already faces a multibillion-dollar deficit, these giveaways will intensify the defunding of important of initiatives and programs. Does anyone honestly think the conservative Republicans now in charge will value things like supporting people living with HIV/AIDS and HIV-prevention programs?
If you are a member or an ally of the LGBT community in Wisconsin, you were likely and justifiably outraged at the results of the Nov. 2 election. Even if the results did not move you, surely the extreme anti-equality agenda that we will soon see from Madison will. Whenever that level of outrage peaks it is critical that we channel it into effective and aggressive action. It will be more important than ever to get fully engaged in the issues. A first step is getting involved with LGBT advocacy groups, such as Equality Wisconsin and Fair Wisconsin.
We are about to witness the extreme reality of Republican rule in Wisconsin. We need to be fully engaged, resolute and prepared to take swift action.