Interest group: Law & Politics

A Seat at the Table

State Representative Mark Pocan examines the pivotal moments in his life and how they’ve shaped his commitment to using his elected positions to effect change.

For Barb

As the threat of a marriage amendment grew across our state, so did the voices and hearts of those it targeted. This is the story of one college student, Madison Alder Eli Judge, who heard that voice—and answered: For Barb.

Still Fighting for a Fair Wisconsin

With the amendment passed, Fair Wisconsin’s Eva Shiffrin outlines what steps come next in achieving equality

Capitol Reflections

David Clarenbach sings the praises of a city and a state where anything is possible.

The Pink Plaque Tour

Take a stroll through time to discover some of the hidden history of Madison’s LGBT community. Dick Wagner gives you a guided tour.

Turning a Moment into Momentum

Lucia Nuñez comes out as a cancer survivor and explains how her job became more poignant as a result of her diagnosis.

Good Family

Linda S. Balisle summons memories and weaves together varied life experiences to define what makes a family.

A Wisconsin Fairy Tale

Dick Wagner shines a light on the story of bipartisanship that won early victories for LGBT rights in Wisconsin.

Immigration Reform’s LGBT Impact

Rep. Mark Pocan and State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa make a joint call for immigration reform that includes LGBT-identified aspiring citizens.

Progressive Pioneer

State Rep. Lloyd Barbee broke lines of color and sexual identity as a tireless champion of equal rights for all citizens.

Island of Inequality

Fair Wisconsin Executive Director Katie Belanger lays out the steps to be taken on the path to equality in Wisconsin.

Out at the Capitol

Representative JoCasta Zamarripa shares what coming out while in office was like, and giving a voice to both the LGBTQ and Latino communities in the State Assembly.

Marriage Equality in Our Time

Rep. Mark Pocan details some of the struggles and successes on the road to marriage equality, and the work yet to be done.

Congressman Mark Pocan stands outside of the United States Supreme Court on June 26 as the decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act is announced.

We’re Federally Recognized Now

Attorney Christopher Krimmer explains the hundreds of marriage rights now available to same-sex spouses who live in Wisconsin.

Big Decisions

Fair Wisconsin Executive Director Katie Belanger explains how the recent Supreme Court decisions affect same-sex marriage here, and what the next steps are in the fight for full equality.

Life in a Post-DOMA Wisconsin

Attorney Michele Perreault reports on how the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act will affect LGBT couples in Wisconsin.

Getting to Work

Introducing U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) as the newest regular contributor to Our Lives! Our congressman will be keeping us up to date on what he’s working on in Washington, D.C., and at home in Wisconsin, especially as it relates to LGBT people.

Advocate for the Aging

Caroline Werner interviews Sen. Tammy Baldwin about her appointment to the Senate Committee on Aging and their moves to include LGBTQ elders as a vulnerable population in the Older Americans Act.

Senator Tammy Baldwin was sworn in as a Member of the United States Senate by Vice President Joe Biden on January 3rd, 2013.

The Gay Divorcée

Do we have the right to same-sex divorce? What can a Wisconsin same-sex couple do if they wish to terminate their out-of-state same-sex marriage?

Balancing the Scales of Justice

Michele Perreault forecasts how two big marriage equality lawsuits could play out before the Supreme Court in June.

What’s Making Local Work

Fair Wisconsin Executive Director Katie Belanger gives a rundown of important spring elections and endorsements, and explains why local matters.

On, Wisconsin!

Wisconsin’s arc of history and the making of a gay-friendly state.

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Our Pivotal Moment

Fair Wisconsin Executive Director Katie Belanger provides post-election analysis and a message for our state’s elected officials.

Diversionary Tactics

J. Edgar Hoover and the 1940s war on sex crimes in Wisconsin.

J. Edgar Hoover with his rumored lover, Clyde Tolson.

Parental Rights

Is a contract to create a family and exclude the birth mother enforceable? Linda Balisle considers a case examining this question.

Remember…

The 30th anniversary of gay rights in Wisconsin is a time for celebration—and a time to remember.

Donna Brukett and Manonia Evans, who, in 1971, applied for a marriage license at the Milwaukee County Clerk’s Office, and had their request denied. Image: Milwaukee LGBT History Project

The Intentionality of Wedge Politics

GSAFE co-director Kristen Petroshius explains why LGBTQ and race issues must go hand-in-hand.

The Tide is On the Side of Equality

Tamara Packard explores the changing landscape of opposition to and support for marriage equality nationwide and right here in Wisconsin.

Civic-Minded

Gypsy Vered Meltzer became the first trans* person elected to public office in Wisconsin when he became an Appleton alderperson earlier this year.

Victory for Equality

Attorney Michele L. Perreault explains Judge Crabb’s historic ruling declaring Wisconsin’s marriage equality ban unconstitutional.

Front Line Force

First-person accounts from the public officials who led the way when marriage equality came to Wisconsin.

Standing On Many Strong Shoulders

Fair Wisconsin executive director Katie Belanger gives thanks to some of the many individuals and groups that led the way on marriage equality and have helped shape the state’s and nation’s progress on LGBTQ rights.

Love Warriors

Meet the eight plaintiff couples in the ACLUís lawsuit to bring marriage equality to Wisconsin

Jurist Prudes from the Past

Historian Dick Wagner illustrates how far we’ve come and compiles some of the less-than-friendly court rulings regarding LGBT people in the state’s past.

Our Stamp on History

Rep. Mark Pocan draws inspiration from the life and work of the LGBTQ pioneers who helped bring us to a time when progress is made every day.

Forward Thinking

Setting a course for advocacy has lead John Quinlan from Outreach to providing a progressive voice for our community on the radio with “Forward Forum.”

Un-Covering Ourselves

Kenji Yoshino explores the ways all minorities mask their identities to assume social roles in his new book, “Covering”

Community Law for the Community

Jen Hitomi Bond is a one-woman, do-it-herself show. Don’t expect a receptionist to take your call or answer the door. Bond does it all.

A Walk Through Time

Hear Us Out: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope, 1950 to the Present by Nancy Garden

Holding Schools Accountable

After an Ashland student was harrassed and beaten by his classmates, he took his school to task. Tamara Packard takes a look at a legal precedent

Marriage Equality on Trial

Tamara Packard looks at the oral arguments in Wisconsin’s marriage equality case and offers an analysis on all of the appeals pending in the federal courts

Faith and the First Amendment

Even laws can’t keep religion away from politics. Tamara Packard looks at the struggles created when there isn’t a clear separation between church and state

An Indecent Disclosure

What keeps your HIV status and other personal information safe from the public? Tamara Packard outlines a statute in place that protects your privacy.

Our Candle in Congress

Running for her sixth term, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin is still an equality pioneer as she talks about her newly-founded LGBT Equality Caucus and co-chairing Democratic Presidential Nominee Obama’s national gay leadership and policy committee.

When Hate Speaks Out

When a preacher implied murder in his Wisconsin speech, what followed challenged our right to debate. Tamara Packard reviews a Supreme Court decision.

Hope Rising

Meet Jason Rae. At 21, he’s the youngest Democratic superdelegate in America

The Path to Parenting

As the reality of creating our own families increases, so do the paths we take to get there. The Law Center for Children and Families reports on a variety of options and success stories.

Our History: How Far We’ve Come…

Could gays present themselves as parents? No, said the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the early 1970s

Finding Their Common Voice

Past Fair Wisconsin Board President Dan Ross charts the path that he and his partner Charlie Squires took from meeting at a graduate school party into a shared life of activism.

What Comes After Prop 8?

While demystifying the legal aftermath of California’s Proposition 8 vote, Tamara Packard offers a perspective on our progress.

Our History: Don’t Forget the ‘Third Coast’

Years before Harvey Milk was elected in San Francisco, the Upper Midwest had out women and men serving in—and being elected to—office. Richard Wagner tallies our political scorecard.

A Supreme Moment

With a Pro-Fairness assembly now seated in the Wisconsin Legislature, Tamara Packard draws attention to a critical April election.

LGBT Safe Schools

Part 2: Students Are the Focus

Marriage Equality / Family Equality

Attorney Michele L. Perreault examines the progress made and challenges that remain in ensuring full parental equality following the victory for marriage equality.

Kat and Teresa Riley with their children after Dane County Circuit Judge Shelley Gaylord ruled their marriage was constitutional and must be recognized under Wisconsin adoption laws.

Victories and the Work Ahead

Rep. Mark Pocan reflects on his first term in Congress and the successes and challenges that lay both behind and ahead.

The 113th Congress freshmen class

As Goes Iowa…

How did our neighboring state 90 minutes west achieve marriage equality? Tamara Packard reviews their Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion.

We Shall Overcome

GSAFE Educator of the Year Scott Lone of West Bend East High School approaches his role with dedication and courage.

40 years after Stonewall: Pride In Progress

The past 50 years in a civil rights movement through the eyes and perspective of a Madison native by Brian Powers.

Avoid Entitlement Traps

How can couples best protect their rights to the house they purchase? Tamara Packard suggests specific language to use in your title.

Up to the Challenge

Meet Katie Belanger. As Fair Wisconsin’s new Executive Director, she’s using her experience and resolve to fight the good fight.

Addressing Religion-Based Homophobia

Crisis by Mitchell Gold and Mindy Drucker

Teach Your Students Well

“After my first year as one of a very small number of ‘out’ students at Marquette, this class was like a life raft,” Jo Futrell said. “To be in a law class where I could speak from my own perspective as a lesbian—that was a big deal.”

Our History: “Homocrats” stir up Wisconsin

The so-called “sex plank” by the Young Democrats led the way toward future legislation protecting gay and lesbian Wisconsinites in 1966.

Estate Planning Basics for Same-Sex Couples

Jaime Zimmerman explains the basics and benefits of a well-designed estate plan.

Networking Nutrition

Meet Ellen Berz. As AIDS Network Board President, she shares her pride in the Network’s ability to address the ever-changing needs of clients, including the reopened food pantry.

Gay Firsts

Scott Seyforth provides highlights from the first year of the Madison Alliance for Homosexual Equality as the organization celebrates the 40th anniversary of the birth of gay liberation in Wisconsin.

The Corporate Diversity Initiative Report

Some local companies have established employee resource groups or employee networks that provide a format for supporting LGBT workers and their allies.

For the Love of Country

A soldier and her wife reflect on their loneliness and honor in the oppressive world of military discrimination.

Debits and Credits

Marty Fox tallies the progress of incorporating LGBT sensitivity and supportive policies in Madison workplaces.

Ferguson to Madison: A Black Queer Synopsis

Freedom Inc.’s M. Adams makes the case for intersectionality and why Black rights and queer rights are inextricably bound together.

M. Adams (right) in Ferguson, Missouri.

Congrats! We Can Marry. Now Should We?

Attorney Christopher Krimmer lays out the legal ups and downs of legalized same-sex marriage and makes a case for why it is—and sometimes is not—right for a couple.

The Long Fight

Outgoing president Katie Belanger recaps the challenges and successes of her time at Fair Wisconsin on the eve of the organization’s transition to new priorities.

The Fighter

A fierce advocate for her rights and those of the people who come after, Ret. Col. Sheri A. Swokowski tells the story of how she came from conservative Wisconsin roots to become one of the highest ranking out transgender officers in the world.

Protecting Our Youth

Congressman Mark Pocan issues a rallying cry for the movement to turn its sights more thoroughly on creating safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ youth.

Pushing Forward

Kristen Petroshius, Cindy Breunig, and Laura McNeil of Groundwork urge continued constructive dialogue and action around issues of racial disparity in Dane County

Congratulations! You Are Now Married to Your Ex

Attorney Christopher Krimmer explores the tricky technicalities of gay marriage and divorce and the patchwork of laws that impact couples even long after they’ve split.

Gay and Lesbian by Official Order

Historian Dick Wagner recalls his part in some of the pioneering efforts to officially recognize and support gays and lesbians through Wisconsin government.

Gov. Anthony Earl signs the Consenting Adults Bill in 1983 decriminalizing homosexual acts and other private sex acts. Such a bill was first proposed by Lloyd Barbee in the early 1970s. 
Looking on are (left to right) Dan Curd, Linda Kessel, Dick Wagner, State Representative John Manske, State Representative David Clarenbach (author), State Representative Marcia Coggs (Barbee’s successor, State Representative David Travis, and an unidentified woman.

A Call for Wider Queer Solidarity

T. Banks with the Young Gifted and Black Coalition makes the case for why queer people everywhere should be standing in solidarity with people of color against state sponsored violence.

The Fight Goes On

Attorney Meghan Roed looks at the possible outcomes of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality case and notes how the fight for
LGBTQ equality will not end there, one way or another.

Cuban, Libre

Cardinal Bar’s founder and longtime owner Ricardo Gonzalez recounts his experiences with revolutionary Cuba during his childhood, and his journey toward self-sufficiency and acceptance throughout some of the most tumultuous decades of the LGBT movement in the U.S.

Don’t Cast That Stone

In light of the recent marriage equality ruling and its blowback, Dick Wagner
runs down the history of religious organizations and individuals that have worked for LGBT rights in Wisconsin.

The Rev. James C. Wright, shown here in 1983, was the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission’s first executive director.

The Work Ahead

Attorney Tamara Packard highlights the legal clean-up process that remains post-marriage equality, and the other important work that remains to be done for wider equality.

The Case for LGBT Law Practitioners

LGBT people still face unique legal challenges in Wisconsin and elsewhere, causing Abigail Churchill to argue for the importance of LGBT-specific attorneys and law firms.

Not Done Yet

Rep. Mark Pocan is helping to push a comprehensive LGBT equality bill in Congress and calls on us all to continue the fight for truly full equality nationwide.

Hope Springs Up

Madison Urban Ministry’s Linda Ketchum muses on what has changed—and what hasn’t—since the death of Tony Robinson in Madison, and where hope for the future of the community comes from the ground up.

And Baby Makes Three: Marital Children of Same-Sex Spouses

Attorney Christopher Krimmer explains the present status and future fight to establish a marital presumption for same-sex parents.

Serving with Authenticity

Ret. Col. Sheri Swokowski reflects on recent gains for transgender rights within the US military and looks forward to note that the “light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.”

A group shot from the White House Pride reception.

Care in Transition

Alex Hanna explains how access to the various pieces of necessary health care can be extremely limited or nonexistent for many transgender people seeking transition care.

Love and Estate Planning

Proper estate planning may not be the most fun part of relationships, but attorney Michele Perreault points out how crucial it is for LGBTQ people in particular.

Inside Man

Scott Evertz reflects on building a career within the Republican Party without hiding his identity as a gay man, working in the Bush Administration, and supporting Bernie Sanders.

What Difference a Law Can Make

Historian Dick Wagner delves into the history of Wisconsin’s groundbreaking sexual orientation non-discrimination law, its shortcomings and achievements, and
the people that helped see it enforced.

Signing of AB70 into law by Governor Lee Dreyfus (R), 
February 1982. Left to right: Leon Rouse, Governor Dreyfus, David Clarenbach

Gay, Black, and Blue

Madison Police Officer Brian Chaney Austin relates his reasons for going into law enforcement and how his experiences as a gay, Black man have shaped how he approaches both work and life.

10 years of Our Lives

Our Lives turns 10 years old this July, and this issue marks the start of our year-long retrospective. We take a look back at some of the people, stories, and changes that have marked the past decade of the LGBTQ community here in Madison, the state, and beyond.

We Did Not Surrender

On November 11 The New York Times carried the story, “Trump Win Seen as ‘Devastating Loss’ for Gay and Transgender People.” A wonderful column from Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgender professor at Barnard College, followed. It was called “Don’t Blame Me.” The stories expressed what many of us had hoped…

Your LGBTQ Rights Under Trump

Attorney Emily Dudak Taylor walks us through some of the realistic legal concerns for the LGBTQ community—as well as what’s just rhetoric and rumor—in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.