A Word in Edgewise

Just as Massachusetts changed a 1913 law finagled to keep nonresident same-sex couples from being married in the Commonwealth, and just as California legalized same-sex marriages, Wisconsin, specifically Wisconsinite Julaine Appling, CEO of the Wisconsin Family Council, has resuscitated statute 765.04(1) from 1915.

The old Massachusetts law was framed with the idea of keeping out mixed-race couples, forbidden to wed in their own states, like Virginia, whose “Leaving State to Evade” law began, “If any white person and colored person shall go out of this State, for the purpose of being married, and with the intention of returning….”

The Wisconsin statute was passed to prevent underage couples from crossing state lines to marry. In the hands of citizens like Appling, it could be used against same-sex couples, to the tune of a $10,000 fine and nine months’ jail time.

To be fair, Appling has opinions on nearly everybody’s behavior. She is on record, for example, as opposing legislation prohibiting harassment of publicly nursing mothers, with the mind-boggling statement: “Just because something is normal and natural, it doesn’t mean we have to condone [it].”

I have to ask: Is Appling, who has written at length concerning pernicious homosexuals, so vociferously against them because they are Biblical abominations, or because they’re “normal and natural,” and the “we” who are encompassed by her privileged majority simply don’t “have to condone” (them)?

My point here is not to whip up phantom fears that Wisconsin jails will be crammed to bursting with rogue gay spouses, but to remind us that there are still individuals—and groups—who will do anything in their power to keep GLBT citizens from enjoying the very rights (neither “different” nor “more”) they themselves cherish.

They’re working away at it in California as I type, hoping for change in November, while, like burrowing mice in a Gouda cheese ball, Appling and her ilk nibble away at the rights of gay Wisconsinites.

Fortunately, gays and lesbians already are marrying legally in California (see page 92), while a number of Westward-bound Wisconsin couples have declared, “I’d rather be prosecuted than persecuted.”

This was the lonely choice made by Mildred and Richard Loving in 1967, after they were married and then prosecuted by the State of Virginia 41 years ago for violating the state’s antimiscegenation law banning mixed-race unions.

On the 40th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision in Loving et ux. v. Virginia, Mildred Loving stated, in part: “I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

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