Green Bay tables anti-gay measure

Green Bay City Council voted to table a measure that would have authorized the city’s legal department to join forces with an anti-gay group seeking to overturn the state’s domestic partner registry law.

A council committee approved the measure, the first of its kind in the state, on Oct. 25. But when the measure was brought up for a vote before the full council on Nov. 3, aldermen voted 9 – 2 to postpone action on it indefinitely.

The two votes against postponement came from pro-equality aldermen who wanted to take stronger action against the measure, said Fair Wisconsin executive director Katie Belanger.

Belanger called the measure an “act of bullying and retribution.” Her organization rallied equality supporters in Green Bay, who packed the council chamber with more than 100 citizens on the evening of the vote to show their opposition.

“We are pleased that the city council saw fit to postpone this unfortunate and ill-advised resolution,” Belanger said. “The outpouring of opposition to this measure was overwhelming and we were proud to stand with so many LGBT and allied residents of Green Bay to stop this attempt to strip basic protections from caring and committed same-sex couples.”

According to Fair Wisconsin, the measure could be brought forward again. The organization said in a statement that it would continue to monitor the situation in Green Bay and “continue opposing further measures by Sortwell and others like him that bully and discriminate against LGBT people.”

Sortwell apparently voted to table his own measure because he believes the domestic partner registry will be overturned legislatively after Republicans take over state government in January, making the legal challenge by Wisconsin Family Action unnecessary, Belanger said. Gov.-elect Scott Walker vowed to do so if elected.

Sortwell was elected to the council for the first time this year. He also backed an ordinance to exempt Green Bay from the state’s public smoking ban.

Sortwell declined to return phone calls to WiG.