At a packed press conference on Thursday, two Democratic Wisconsin state lawmakers -- Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, who is bisexual, and Sen. Tim Carpenter, who is gay -- introduced legislation to repeal the state's 2006 constitutional marriage discrimination amendment. The Badger Herald reports:
[Zamarripa and Carpenter]... announced the bill at a press conference at the Capitol, saying public opinion has changed since voters approved the ban in a 2006 referendum.
"In less than 10 years we have seen a dramatic shift in public opinion on this issue and it is time for the legislature to act," Zamarripa said in a statement. "All Wisconsinites deserve the right to enjoy the benefits of marriage regardless of who they love."
The legislative effort, though important, is largely symbolic because Wisconsin state government is entirely controlled by anti-LGBT Republicans. Not a single one of them has agreed to back the bill. All 15 Senate Democrats, however, have signed on as co-sponsors, and 53% of Wisconsin voters support marriage equality.
The introduction of the bill comes on the heels of a new federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of four Wisconsin couples seeking the invalidation of the state's marriage ban. With three of its four border states (Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois) allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry, Wisconsin is growing increasingly isolated in its stubborn refusal to end marriage discrimination.
Katie Belanger, executive director of the statewide LGBT group Fair Wisconsin, applauded the bill, but she noted the challenges ahead and called on Wisconsin Republicans to step up to the plate:
"We have a lot of work to do in order to ensure this effort is successful in Wisconsin. No state has successfully repealed their ban, and no state has passed full marriage equality without broad bipartisan support. For that reason, we encourage all members of the State Senate and State Assembly to stand on the right side of history - no matter what side of the aisle they stand on - and help move our state forward.
"From Kenosha to Eau Claire, Janesville to Appleton, and Manitowoc to Stevens Point, the people of Wisconsin are taking direct action to ensure same-sex couples are treated with dignity and respect. It's time for our state legislature to do the same."
Image created by Richard Hawkins; shared via Facebook.