Wisconsin has moved a step closer to banning gay marriage with the legislative passage of a constitutional amendment banning civil unions and marriage for same-sex couples. The discriminatory amendment will go before voters in the November elections.

“The legislature voted to discriminate but fair-minded Wisconsin voters will have the final say in November,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Wisconsinites do not want to see their friends and neighbours forever denied the ability to visit their loved one in the hospital or share health and retirement benefits – but that’s exactly what this far-reaching constitutional amendment would do.”

Opposition to this amendment is already coalescing. A statewide campaign to defeat the amendment will launch soon with the support of organizations and individuals from across the state. Faith organisations representing over 500,000 Wisconsinites have already spoken out against the ban and over 700 speakers from across the state have been trained to talk to their neighbours about how this ban hurts real people and real families.

“Although we were able to gain votes, we have always anticipated the legislature would ultimately pass the ban. That’s why Action Wisconsin and Center Advocates have focused on educating tens of thousands of voters for the past 600 days,” said Fair Wisconsin campaign manager Mike Tate. “As the official statewide campaign, Fair Wisconsin will build off that foundation and run a serious campaign to win in November.”

The Human Rights Campaign has provided staff, funding and polling to Action Wisconsin – the statewide gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization – and we will continue to work closely with Fair Wisconsin to ensure the defeat of this discriminatory amendment in November.

“In 2004, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were used as a wedge issue in cynical political games,” said Mr Solmonese. “This year, we are going to stop this onslaught on American families and Wisconsinites are already running a strategic and effective campaign to defeat this shameful attempt to discriminate.”

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