17 May 2011Dear Scott Walker,
As you know, today is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO Day)! Having just read the lovely press release from Secretary Clinton (see below) calling on us to "redouble our efforts" to fight LBGT discrimination, I would expect that your office also make a statement today acknowledging how important it is, sadly, that we continue to promote equal rights for all members of our society, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
I am accustomed, by now, however, to having your office not only fail to meet, but to greatly exceed the worst possible estimations of my expectations. So I won't hold my breath on your own press release, as you seem bent on proving, yet again, that you'll never fail to disappoint me. I am struck, though, by the cavalier and insensitive timing with which you decided to move forward your own homophobic campaign to further deprive gay citizens of their rights - a campaign you began immediately upon taking office by firing the state counsel defending the Wisconsin domestic partnership registry. And since Secretary Clinton has called upon me to fight such injustice "wherever it occurs," I think we should start right here in Wisconsin.
Whether or not they are legally married, same-sex couples should be entitled to exactly the same domestic partnership rights as any other couple. And the fact that you, with your own long history of disregard for and lack of understanding of the law, would make a claim as to the constitutionality of a law which protects human rights is not surprising, but extremely repulsive. As the Capital Times reports:
"While we're disappointed that Gov. Walker has decided not to defend critical protections for same-sex couples, including hospital visitation and family medical leave, this is exactly why we felt it was so important for Fair Wisconsin and Lambda Legal to intervene in this case," says Katie Belanger, executive of FairWisconsin, a statewide gay rights organization based in Madison. "We are still committed to defending this legislation and are confident the legislation is constitutional."
Walker's filing comes about two months after he fired the private legal counsel former Gov. Jim Doyle hired to defend the registry. Madison attorney Lester Pines was hired after Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the state registry. At the time Pines' contract was terminated, Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the governor's office was "still working to appoint a new counsel to the case." That appears not to have happened.I call on you to recognize today that Wisconsin supports equal rights for all of its citizens by appointing new and fair counsel to this case, and by retracting your homophobic, immoral and hateful statement that it is somehow "unconstitutional" to allow same-sex partners such basic rights as hospital visitation and inheritance rights. If you don't find my own appeal convincing, you might actually consider reading the Constitution, which is particularly crystal clear in the following:
Article I, §1 Equality; inherent rights. Section 1. [As amended Nov. 1982 and April 1986] All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; to secure these rights, governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. [1979 J.R. 36, 1981 J.R. 29, vote Nov. 1982; 1983 J.R. 40, 1985 J.R. 21, vote April 1986]Turns out it's the anti-gay marriage act that's unconstitutional, Scott Walker. Why don't you get to work on changing that, if you suddenly care so much about protecting our constitutional freedoms.
Until you resign,
Heather DuBois Bourenane
Wisconsin citizen, supporter of human rights and hater of all homophobia and transphobia, including yours, and perhaps especially yours
P.S. Here's Secretary Clinton's press statement, in case you haven't had time to read it yet! It's great!
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
May 17, 2011
In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love. Homophobia, transphobia and the brutal hostility associated with them are often rooted in a lack of understanding of what it actually means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). So to combat this terrible scourge and break the cycle of fear and violence, we must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate. As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this May 17, let us resolve to redouble our efforts.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am proud to reaffirm our support for LGBT communities at home and abroad, and to call for an end to discrimination and mistreatment of LGBT persons wherever it occurs. Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights.
Despite these gains and hard work, there is more to do to turn the tide of inequality and discrimination against the LGBT community. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, know that the United States stands with you and we are unwavering in our commitment to ending this cycle of hate.