Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
Not too many years ago Jill and I were invited to a fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. As is the nature of such celebrations; following the feasting and toast-making there is the speechifying.
Brothers and sisters spoke. Children spoke. Small grandchildren spoke. Friends spoke. The preacher spoke. Then the long-married patriarch said a few words. And last, but not least, the matriarch spoke.
The matriarch spoke fondly of the life events, experiences, joys and challenges of a long and enduring marriage. She waxed-eloquently about the pride she and the patriarch had in their children and the blessing of grandchildren. She spoke of the importance of commitment. Then, for icing on the cake, she dropped the bomb.
We're so blessed that none of our children married a Catholic.
My brother-in-law and I simultaneously turned to one another. I whispered - We married Lutheran girls. He whispered back - And they married the Catholic boys. Looks like we're all going to hell, eh?
It's funny (or perhaps not so funny) how people still cling to notions of marriage that are increasingly being dismissed as an idiosyncrasy from an earlier time and so terribly unfair. Not unfair to the belief holder - but to the person seeking the joy that comes from wedlock - who finds the belief to be a roadblock to happiness. In an earlier time my own people held such beliefs. With time religious freedom prevailed.
Miscegenation laws criminalized interracial marriage and intimate relationships for much of our country's history. The last of them was struck-down by the Supreme Court in 1967. Nazi Germany enforced similar laws. Under Apartheid, South Africa did the same. Bad laws die hard sometimes.
I have a lesbian friend and when we chat the conversation eventually devolves to hunting tales. Like me she is an avid hunter. She is both an archer and holds a firearms qualification. She and her partner have been in a long and enduring relationship. Like the matriarch they place a high value upon the notion of commitment. Nevertheless, as much as they would like to marry this would be taboo in Wisconsin.
The Constitution says so.
So, unlike me (the guy going to hell) she's probably going straight to heaven. She will be saved by the intervention of a stern but enlightened state which forbids her from committing the grave transgression of matrimony. In a strange twist the constitution forbids the commission of a commitment. For icing on the cake - her time on earth will be bereft of the same inheritance laws, tax breaks, insurance benefits and many other perks enjoyed by those of us who married into the opposite sex.
For sure, she and other gay and lesbian individuals can pretty much do everything I might choose to do. Go to college. Succeed in business. Teach in a school, be a firefighter or law enforcement officer. Become a professional. Serve their country in the military. Give back to society.
As long as they know their place.
As a second-class citizen.
Unlike many of the archaic and hideous miscegenation laws that have been relegated to the dustbin of history - Article XIII, Section 13 of the Wisconsin state constitution reads:
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.
As I take a look at the family trees of my marital unit I see something similar to what many other Americans see in their own roots and branches. Lots of marriages. Parents, aunts and uncles - great and otherwise. Followed by children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins and second cousins, They're not all Irish and German either. Previously frowned-upon religions have infiltrated the bloodlines. Freedom of religion not only survives - it thrives. There have been marriages to Asian and African American individuals too. Marriages punishable as a crime not too long ago.
You'll also find some gay and lesbian individuals. You'll recognize them not by the color of their skin or their religious persuasion. They're the ones that are the second class citizens.
The lesser ones.
At least in the eyes of the all-knowing state.
Almost two and a half centuries ago some guys wrote something about all of us being created as equals didn't they?