Position of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign on the Proposed Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage and Civil Unions

June 21, 2006

Madison - The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and civil unions and urges a “no” vote in November on ratification of the amendment.

The effort to ban gay marriage and civil unions by amending the state Constitution does serious harm to the principles and institutions of democracy in Wisconsin, disrespects and disregards essential checks and balances in the policymaking process, and misuses the Constitution for purposes that are neither legitimate nor in keeping with the intentions of the Constitution’s framers.

Specifically, the Democracy Campaign objects to the proposed constitutional amendment on the grounds that:

  • Wisconsin’s Constitution should not be used as an instrument of discrimination. The Constitution establishes and enumerates citizen rights. It should not be amended to deny rights to one group of citizens. The expression and imposition of the will of the majority must be balanced by protections of minority rights in a just democratic society. This proposed constitutional amendment threatens to upset that delicate balance. That should be of concern to all Wisconsin citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.
  • The process of amending the Constitution should not be used as an end-run around the normal lawmaking process. In addition to spelling out citizen rights, the purpose of the Constitution is to establish the framework of our government. It was not intended to be used to make laws or public policy. The Constitution sets the ground rules for our democratic process, including the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. Amending the state Constitution should not be used as a substitute for the conventional lawmaking process generally and particularly should not be used to circumvent checks and balances on legislative power such as the governor’s veto authority.
  • The Constitution should not be used by any candidate for public office, political party or interest group to gain an electoral advantage. The Constitution should never be used to help one gain an upper hand over another in an election. Moreover, gay and lesbian people in Wisconsin should not be used as pawns in a political game.