Our own Bruce Harville spoke to the club on May 3, 2010. Bruce is on the board of Fair Wisconsin. This group promotes equal rights for gays, lesbians, and transsexual members of Wisconsin citizenry. His talk was a trial run of informational talks that would be informative, not controversial.
Internationally, countries have gone different ways about protecting same sex partnerships. Seven countries recognize them as marriages. Thirty countries offer civil unions with most of the benefits of marriage. Israel, although not legalizing same sex marriage, does recognize these marriages if legalized elsewhere. Advocacy pro and con has aroused complaint, media coverage, even anger about outside interference, especially in African countries.

Protections in the US are limited to a half dozen states plus DC with MA being the first and NH, CT, IO, and VT also supporting these rights. NY and MD recognize marriages performed elsewhere. NJ recognizes civil unions with rights equal to marriage. Other states have legalized protections for civil unions that are short of marriage rights Among them are CA, WA, OR, NV, CO HA, ME, and WI. The US census now inquires about "unmarried partner" without query about gender of the partner.

In Wisconsin, in 2003, an amendment was added to the constitution defining marriage as being between one woman and one man. That amendment is being challenged as asking two questions, not one. Interviews show that many people would have voted differently on each query if they had been separated. However, Bruce doesn't expect that the WI Supreme Court will declare the amendment unconstitutional. The WI law gives some equivalent rights (43/200) and doesn't recognize many others. WI has about 8000 registered same sex partnerships, with equal numbers of female and male partnerships.

The Iowa Supreme Court voted 7:0 that the amendment outlawing same sex marriages there was unconstitutional in a precedent-based opinion.

Bruce closed with some comments on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. This is much in the news so you can keep in touch via media or ask Bruce.

Thanks Bruce for an informative summary.