from the Washington Blade Online
‘Family man’ tries to overturn Wis. gay marriage ban
Wants state to vote on marriage, civil unions as separate questions
(AP) | Dec 10, 3:10 PM
Few people took Bill McConkey seriously when he filed a lawsuit in July trying to overturn Wisconsin’s new ban on gay marriage and civil unions.
The relatively unknown University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh political science instructor was acting as his own lawyer and didn’t have the backing of the state’s major gay rights group.
But his challenge to the amendment — approved by 59 percent of voters last year — has picked up steam in recent weeks.
A Dane County judge ruled the lawsuit can go forward on grounds that McConkey was harmed as a voter by the wording of the question. McConkey claims the referendum illegally asked two questions in one — whether to ban gay marriage and whether to ban civil unions — and he wants the state to vote on each question.
So, who is this guy and why is he doing this? More
What’s great about this story is that we have another father coming out for his lesbian daughter’s civil rights. Bill McConkey joins San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders and probably millions of other fathers who support their children’s right to be legally connected and hopefully married to the person whom they love most in the world.
In suing for his civil right to be able to vote on gay marriage and civil unions as two separate ballot questions, McConkey, a political science professor at UW-Oshkosh presses for his legal rights as well as his daughter’s.
McConkey believes that the Wisconsin electorate would not have defeated civil unions in the 2006 election, but he concedes that gay marriage was probably doomed. He does believe, however, that gay marriage is a constitutional right. “I think ultimately I would say under the U.S. Constitution, the way it’s written, we cannot constitutionally deny the right of gay people to be married. Neither can the government order a church and say you have to marry gay people.”
Sanders like McConkey sees gay marriage as a civil right. He put a lot of his political capital on the line when he came all the way out for his daughter Lisa in pressing for gay marriage. As a California resident, Lisa Sanders, already had the right to enter into a domestic partnership that grants her all the rights and privileges of marriage. But as her dad poignantly noted what she does not have is the right to call herself married. On the day before he was kicking off his re-election campaign, September 19, 2007, he decided to, in his words, “lead with my heart.”
An emotional Mayor Sanders reversed his previous pledge to veto the San Diego City Council’s 5-3 vote to support gay marriage. He cited his acquaintances, staff, and most significantly his daughter, whose rights he could no longer deny. â€œIn the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife, Rana,â€ said Sanders.
Ever since I began doing research for Courting Equality, I’ve been consistently impressed with the power of parents in support of their children’s civil rights. Their support is inspired by love and fired by a patriotic belief that all of their kids should have the same rights. In Courting Equality, one of Marilyn Humphries’ compelling photos shows a mother at a 2004 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention holding a sign that reads, “My Son Is Not a Second-Class Citizen.” Her sign says it all!
As parents speak out, politicians begin to listen more intently and then more politicians speak out. As both the electorate and the elected speak out the circle of equality is expanded.