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Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012

Issue of the Week: A Victory for Equality

Plus: Hero of the Week

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There weren’t a lot of progressive victories in Wisconsin this year. But last week, the state’s right to create a domestic partnership registry cleared another legal hurdle when an appeals court in Madison declared that while registered domestic partners do have some legal rights, they don’t have as many legal rights as a married couple. That, of course, would be banned under the state’s latest—and most short-sighted—constitutional amendment, which was approved by Wisconsin voters in 2006.

When same-sex marriage bans swept the country earlier this decade, religious conservatives and Republicans used them to draw their own voters to the polls. In Wisconsin’s case, the amendment was unnecessary, since Wisconsin law only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman and not those of same-sex couples. Nevertheless, two successive sessions of the state Legislature affirmed it and the voters ratified it six years ago.

Fast-forward to the November 2012 election and a sea change in public opinion in just a six-year period. In every state where same-sex marriage rights appeared on a ballot in 2012 it won. And it seems that voters also supported Democrats, too, sending the message that Republicans’ intolerant views about same-sex couples aren’t as popular as they were just a few short years ago.

The tide is turning or perhaps it already has turned.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin is stuck with an already outmoded constitutional amendment that we believe is unconstitutional and thoroughly unfair. We hope that last week’s judicial decision is just one more step toward true equality for all of us in Wisconsin.

Heroes of the Week
: Grafton Blues Association Volunteers

Since its founding in 2006, the Grafton Blues Association (GBA) has helped to highlight local blues musicians. Over the past six years, this entirely volunteer-run nonprofit has donated more than $1,000 to local high schools for music scholarships and created the “Blues in the School” program, which brings blues performers to schools free of charge. GBA also has a “Seniors Blues” program that brings acoustic groups to assisted living and nursing homes for an hour performance free to all residents. “This really makes a difference in these seniors’ lives,” says GBA co-founder and president Kris Raymond.

In addition, GBA puts on events such as “Blues for the Cure,” which has raised more than $3,000 for women fighting breast cancer, and the two-day Paramount Blues Festival, which showcases a variety of Wisconsin blues-style performers. As an affiliated organization with The Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tenn., the GBA holds a Grafton Blues Challenge each year to support rising blues performers and give them the opportunity to become involved in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

The GBA is always in need of monetary donations to help keep these impactful programs running and also needs volunteers for day-of-event help, as well as those interested in maintaining the website or helping with promotions and marketing. Currently, the organization does not have its own building or office and the core committee is seeking affordable or donated office space in the Ozaukee County area. For those interested in volunteering, donating or becoming a GBA band or venue member, please visit graftonblues.org or contact Raymond at gba@graftonblues.org or 262-208-6288. Donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 566, Grafton, WI 53024.

A fundraising event to help send this year’s Grafton Blues Challenge winner to Memphis for the 2013 International Blues Challenge will be held Jan. 26, 2013, at Grafton’s Bridge Inn. The next Grafton Blues Challenge is scheduled for March 23, 2013. Please visit the website listed above for entry information and form; deadline for entry is Jan. 31, 2013.

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