Victories pave the way forward for 2013

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I recently attended the swearing-in receptions for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan. It was inspirational to be on Capitol Hill on such a historic day. Seeing Baldwin standing behind a podium with the U.S. Senate Seal provided a sense that all of the work was worth it. It gave me hope that the 113th Congress has the ability to move our community forward.

At the Equality Wisconsin holiday party in December, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele challenged Equality Wisconsin to raise $50,000 to increase our efforts to repeal the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Abele promised to match every penny that is raised by Jan. 31 up to $50,000. This generous challenge also provided Equality Wisconsin with a great source of inspiration to kick off 2013. 

With the recent victories in Washington, Maryland, Maine and Minnesota, the time is now to engage people in conversations about why marriage equality is important. When Nathan and I decided to get married, it was because we loved one another and wanted to make a lifelong commitment. That is the message we must take to the streets – that, like straight couples, loving same-sex couples want to get married because they love each other. 

Wisconsin has a great history of being a beacon of progressive hope for the Midwest. In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state in the nation to pass an employment non-discrimination law that included sexual orientation. While the law needs to be expanded to include protections for our transgender brothers and sisters, it was a great moment for our state. 

Leaders such as former state Sen. Gary Goyke, a champion of numerous progressive issues, made that moment possible. Now as Evan, Gary’s son, follows in his father’s footsteps to the Assembly, I’m confident that he will make a great legislator and ally for our community.

We can’t accomplish this alone. We need your help to move this conversation forward.

We recently announced the formation of our Marriage Equality Committee, which will work on engaging Wisconsin in conversations about marriage equality and training community members on how to have conversations with their families, friends and neighbors.

A recent study conducted in Minnesota showed that 67 percent of people’s opinions on marriage equality changed after engaging in such a conversation. 

Last year, we changed the face of Congress with the election of Baldwin, Pocan and others. Additionally, we saw our friends at Lambda Legal and Fair Wisconsin achieve success in their defense of the state’s domestic partnership registry, and we saw several cities in Wisconsin extend benefits to the registered same-sex partners of their workers

As we turn to 2013, we are better positioned than ever to do even more.