Wednesday, June 01, 2005

we never failed to fail, it was the easiest thing to do

While I really do love living in Wisconsin, it never ceases to amaze me just how idiotic some of the politicians are. Earlier, I commented on the record pace that Mr. Sensenbrenner (and others) are spending other people's money on travel.

Now, it's State Assembly Speaker John Gard (who apparently is the epitome of right-wing nutjob). What did Mr. Gard do, you might be tempted to ask? Well, he decided that Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager wasn't to be trusted to do her job in defending Wisconsin in a lawsuit regarding domestic partner benefits.

So, in the infinite wisdom that apparently only John Gard possesses, he hired the Alliance Defense Fund to defend the Great State of Wisconsin. From The Capital Times:
Unwilling to trust Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and the state Department of Justice to do their job, Gard brought in the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona legal firm that is closely tied to far-right religious and political groups, to oppose a lawsuit that seeks health insurance for domestic partners. Gard, who seems to have become obsessed with denying protections to gays and lesbians, is concerned that the lawsuit might force the state to stop discriminating. And, apparently because its principals share his homophobia, Gard believes the Alliance Defense Fund team will do a better job of promoting his agenda than Wisconsin lawyers would.
While it is not completely out of the realm of reality that outside counsel may be of value when a state faces a lawsuit, the Alliance Defense Fund is particularly a bad choice.
Unfortunately, the Alliance Defense Fund has been associated with some of the wackier instances of anti-gay extremism to surface in recent years. The fund's co-founder has devoted inordinate amounts of time to arguing that the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is gay. He has also called for a "second civil war" - over cultural issues - in the United States.
Thanks to John Gard's rash actions, Wisconsin is quickly becoming a national embarrassment.
As Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, correctly noted after the controversy heated up last week: "If bringing in fringe extremists who think cartoon characters are gay is the only way to fight providing health care benefits to Wisconsin families, it is a sad day in Wisconsin."

Just how sad is rapidly becoming evident.

Gard's decision to make Wisconsin the first state in the country to align with the extremists at the Alliance Defense Fund is drawing negative attention far beyond the state's borders.

Noting the legal firm's history of fierce opposition to equal treatment for all citizens, Joe Solmonese, the president of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, condemned Gard's move. "This group is far from unbiased and the people of Wisconsin did not elect it to speak for them," Solmonese said. "Wisconsinites did elect the attorney general, who should be the one seeing this case through. The Legislature has seriously overstepped its bounds."

Solmonese, who heads the nation's largest lesbian and gay political organization, explained that "Wisconsin's interest is best served with an unbiased, thoughtful assessment regarding equal employment benefits. Employees with same-sex partners are now doing equal work for less compensation. Domestic partner benefits make good business sense. They enhance an employer's overall compensation package with negligible cost to the company and are a hallmark of whether a company values diversity. If the Legislature is hearing from the Alliance Defense Fund, I urge legislators to also hear from companies in the state that have already learned these lessons."

More than 60 major corporations in Wisconsin offer domestic partner benefits to their employees. They include Miller Brewing Co., American Family Insurance Group, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, and SC Johnson & Son Inc. In addition, 11 states - California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington - provide these benefits. In Massachusetts, where same-sex couples are allowed to marry, equal access to benefits is also assured.
Hopefully the people of the 89th Assembly District will come to their senses and vote this clown out of office for the shame he's brought on Wisconsin.