Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rainbow Buzzkill: Racine County Clerk Still Refuses Marriage Licenses

Racine County Clerk, Wendy Christensen

Do you know why civil "rights" are never supposed to be taken to a vote?

Because people change their feeble, stupid minds.

Thinkers like Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and even the queen of the Libertarian movement, Ayn Rand, spoke clearly on how the rights of the minority should not be decided by the majority.

Because the majority often act like assholes in the worst sense of mob rule imaginable.

In 2006, a majority of people in Wisconsin believed that marriage should be defined as a union of one man and one woman. Period. And so Wisconsin changed its constitution to say so.

Then, time passed. People discovered they knew some gay people - maybe they were the parents or children of gay people. The gay people they knew were kind of nice. They took care of their yards, had kids, shopped in their businesses. They had partners and just wanted to be like everyone else. They were like everyone else - except because we changed our state constitution, they couldn't get married.

The majority learned these people, who they lived by, worked with, or were in their own families couldn't make decisions for each other if one became ill. They couldn't get tax breaks for their children like everyone else and the custody rights of their children was unclear - making everyone uncomfortable. They couldn't share Social Security benefits like other married people, no matter how many years they had been together.

Worse, Wisconsin said if you were gay and went to another state to get married - they could put you in jail and impose a great big fine on you.

So, between 2006 and 2014, people in Wisconsin changed their mind about gay marriage. The majority now thought it wasn't such a big deal anymore. The majority of people in Wisconsin thought gay couples should be able to get married - just 8 years later.

Ah ha! But Wisconsin now has a Constitution that forbids it because jerks like Julie Appling and Wisconsin Family Action put a marriage equality ban on the ballot - which Republicans loved because it turned out all those gay hating folks to the polls to vote on it. So instead of having a State Constitution to expand clarify citizens rights, they used it as political trick to restrict a minorities (who they didn't like - and don't vote for them) civil rights.

State by state, marriage bans were overturned and people realized the world wasn't going to end if those two nice men down the street got married. But it wasn't just because people got used to the idea - it was because it was patently unconstitutional, unfair and wrong. So, even people who didn't like the idea of gay marriage realized that gay people had rights too.

Last Friday, Federal Justice, Barbara Crabb, found the Wisconsin ban on same sex marriage totally unconstitutional. BOOM. Even though the ruling came around 4pm - people in Milwaukee and Dane County were getting married by 5pm - and then through the weekend.

On Monday morning, just a couple of counties were issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. By the late afternoon, over 40 counties were issuing them.

As of Tuesday night 49 counties and this morning at least 50 with more sure to follow through the day. Hundreds of couples have gotten married - but not one of them is in Racine County.

Racine County Clerk, Wendy Christensen, is not issuing any marriage licenses to gay couples.

According to people who occupied the clerk's office trying to get a license, Christensen first claimed they didn't know how to fill out the license paperwork since it lists a bride and groom. Kenosha County let couples decide. Then, she said she needed to speak with the Racine County Corporation Council - the lawyers who represent the county who said she needed direction from the Division of Vital Records. Vital Records said it was up to her. Then she said she needed to wait for the decision on the stay requested by AG JB Van Hollen. Crabb denied his request for a stay. Lastly, she said there were too many decisions in process, so she would wait to see what happened in court.

As if Judge Crabb's clear declaration in her court brief that the ban was unconstitutional wasn't enough for her - apparently, Christensen gets to pick and chose what court decisions she wants to follow or ignore.

With 50 other clerks issuing marriage licenses, what's the deal?

Is Christensen a big gay hater? The Siren doesn't know how the Republican clerk feels about it. With Waukesha County being one of the early offices to start issuing licenses - partisan politics isn't the only factor at work here.

Christensen is being advised by attorneys for the county and the County Executive, Jim Ladwig - who is climbing the Republican ladder. Being a team player for the GOP establishment (think Vos, Van Hollen and Walker -who really doesn't want to talk about this) may be part of the picture. They say the people of Wisconsin decided this in 2006 - as if the obvious shift in opinion hasn't taken place.

The Racine County Council is a non-elected job, appointed by the County Executive and for the time being Ladwig and Christensen are hiding behind their advice, pretending they have no power.

Too bad, because a rather large protest is being planned for by the LGBT community in Racine on Friday at 11am at the Courthouse, 730 Wisconsin Ave. If you live nearby or have friends in the area - send them down. If not, keep calling the clerk's office and ask Wendy Christensen to start issuing licenses to gay couples. The phone number is 262/636-3132 - press 0 to skip the messages.