Letter to Scott Walker on Same-Sex Marriage

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch at an event at the State Capitol.  Photo by Callen Harty.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch at an event at the State Capitol. Photo by Callen Harty.

Dear Governor Walker,

In today’s paper you are quoted as saying that your position on same-sex marriage is irrelevant. “My position has been clear. I voted in the past. It doesn’t really matter.”

You do realize that you are the governor of our state, right? Historically the governor’s position on all matters of public interest are of import to the citizenry. As the highest elected official in our state you are in a position of power where your words and opinions carry weight. Saying that your position does not matter is, in the vernacular of rural Wisconsin, bullshit.

If you are still adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage, which is where your votes were in the past and where your position was clear, then we the people have the right to know where you stand now. The amendment vote was eight years ago and your position may have evolved just as many other politicians’ opinions have evolved. You were not afraid of expressing your viewpoint when 59% of the population agreed with you on the issue. Why should you be afraid to do so now when 55% of the population disagrees with you. To me this seems like a spineless attempt to maintain your base and not lose those votes in the upcoming election.

Staying silent also indicates that you are trying not to lose possible swing votes from independents and the handful of Democrats who may like some of your other policies. Being governor is not about the next election. It is about leading now. The people want leaders in power, not those who look for the latest trends and then follow along. We want someone who lets us know how they feel about every issue without equivocating or wavering. If you are strongly morally opposed to same-sex marriage that is your right. Tell us. Tell us what you believe. If you have a moral backbone then you would speak about the issue and state your opinions proudly. I am not a politician and I have always stood my moral ground on issues which are of importance to me. Perhaps this is why I am not a politician.

You may say the issue is unimportant to you, but again that would be dodging the issue. It is clearly important to the citizens of this state since the federal ruling last Friday. As the governor it is incumbent upon you to tell us where you truly stand. In this state you can’t straddle both sides of a farm fence without catching yourself on barbed wire.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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