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WI Referendum: Definition of Marriage

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In 2003, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that sought to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The Republican-led legislature then initiated a constitutional amendment process (which passed 19-14 in the state Senate on a strict party-line vote and 62-31 in the state Assembly earlier this year).

Wisconsin voters will now join the long list of states that in recent years have sought to define marriage via constitutional amendment in response to the perceived and actual push of the legalization of same-sex marriage (e.g. Massachusetts in 2003). Twenty states have adopted a constitutional amendment preserving traditional marriage through the ballot box, and six additional states (plus Wisconsin) will be voting on the issue in the November election. Wisconsin seeks to define marriage on the ballot as follows:

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."

The amendment is expected to pass, although support in recent polls hovers around 50% - a much lower level of support than the average level of support voters have given similar amendments in 20 states during the past eight years (68% - ranging from a high of 86% in Mississippi and Missouri to a low of 58% in Oregon).

The conventional wisdom after the presidential election of 2004 was that the religious right turned out in greater number to back the state-sponsored amendments seeking to protect the traditional definition of marriage on the ballot in 12 states that November. This support from religious conservatives was seen as a crucial factor in Bush's reelection victory.

But the truth is only 4 of those 12 states were in play for both Kerry and Bush to begin with: Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, and Oregon. Of these four states, voters demonstrating the greatest support for such amendments (Missouri, 86%; Ohio, 62%) went for Bush, while Michigan (59%) and Oregon (58%) went for Kerry.

All this may have the Democrats and Doyle camp wondering: will voter turnout and the marriage referendum have an impact in Wisconsin's gubernatorial race?

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4 Comments


  • Voters in Wisconsin do hear about the referndum, but rarely. The GOP campaign scandal of Mark Green and his suing the state has topped the anger list of voters.
    When the topic is mentioned on the news it is always preceeded with the fact that the referendum is not binding and only advisory. Voters also know there is already a law which only allows man/woman marriages.
    Voters know it is a wedge issue, but with Dems having a 10pt lead in most races, the referendum is moot.

  • No matter its eventual impact on specific races, the fact that it was such a hot button issue in 2004 no doubt brought out the GOP in many states beyond the four in play. Also, those two states that went republican were the difference in that election.

  • Perhaps if politicians, in their efforts to protect tradition marriage, took a less punitive stance against same sex unions and say created a legal and binding union for them the "protect tradiontional marriage" actions might be more accepted.

    The genie is out of the bottle; most of us accept that there are people who are homosexual so it seems time to accept their unions and provide a way to protect them in those unions.

  • Hello, with the abundance of crappy blogs around it's great to see that there are still some filled with fantastic information! Is there any way I can be alerted when you create a new post? thank you!

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

    The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

    Political Crumbs

    Seeing Red

    Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


    Home Field Advantage?

    When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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