That's why 65-year-old McConkey, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, SAID HE is battling the gay marriage ban that passed in Wisconsin MORE THAN a year ago.,”Bill McConkey said he is passionate about equal rights. He's also passionate about the Wisconsin constitution not discriminating against members of his family.
That's why 65-year-old McConkey, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, said he is battling the ban on gay marriage passed in Wisconsin more than a year ago.
The amendment passed by a steep margin. Almost 60 percent of Wisconsin voters approved it. Around 1.2 million Wisconsin citizens voted for the amendment. But that number doesn't concern McConkey, he said. What concerns him are his nine grandchildren and seven daughters, one of whom is gay.
The amendment states: "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."
McConkey filed a lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin last July to repeal the amendment that passed Nov. 7, 2006.
His major argument is that the amendment proposed two issues: marriage and civil unions. He said he believes individual amendments should have been brought forward to voters. A civil union gives a couple the legal status of marriage without being married.
McConkey said he thinks many voters might have thought they were just voting for banning gay marriage.
McConkey also said the amendment unlawfully discriminates against Wisconsin citizens.
"I don't care if 90 percent of the people voted for it," he said. "There is something horribly evil that says people of Wisconsin can single people out."
McConkey also said the amendment was unclear and confused voters.
"It's sloppily and terribly worded," he said.
Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal consul for the Alliance Defense Fund, which opposes McConkey's case, said he disagrees with McConkey.
"It was clear enough for the hundreds of thousands of voters who voted for it." Nimocks said. "It speaks for itself whether it was clear."
Nimocks said he believes McConkey's lawsuit undermines the authority of Wisconsin citizens who were given the opportunity to speak their minds on the issue.
"I think it's a slap in the face of democracy," Nimocks said. "In a democracy, every citizen has a voice. It's real clear that Wisconsin voters were not in favor of gay marriage."
McConkey said the amendment eradicates rights for not only gay citizens but also straight, unmarried citizens. It discriminates against civil unions as well, McConkey said.
McConkey said the amendment sets a precedent that selectively separates some people from others and could send Wisconsin down a slippery slope.
McConkey said he received streams of e-mails and letters from supporters. So far, most have been good, he said.
The lawsuit will continue May 15 when both sides give their oral arguments.
McConkey said he has no idea if he can overturn the amendment. But that prospect won't keep him from trying, he said.