Do you hear that? The sound of brass bands leading tickertape parades in celebration of former Gov. Jim Doyle's eight years in office?
No, I don't hear it either.
Blame the economy. Blame a lack of charisma. Blame what you will, but the fact is that Doyle left office distinctly unloved.
But I'll always admire him. In the face of ugly and loud opposition, he improved the lives of gay Wisconsinites in significant ways.
Chiefly: In 2009 he proposed, and signed into law, the budget that established the domestic-partner registry. The registry is problematic, but it confers real perks, including inheritance protections and family leave. The budget also extended health benefits to state workers' partners.
Additionally, Doyle vetoed a frivolous 2003 bill that would have defined marriage in Wisconsin as between one man and one woman. And in 2006 he opposed the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Okay, a word about 2006. I do wish Doyle and other leaders had spoken out more forcefully against the amendment, especially since its promoters made their case with hideous lies and innuendos about bestiality and pedophilia. Having been lied to, Wisconsin voters approved the amendment, dealing a shameful blow to the civil rights cause and Wisconsin's progressive tradition.
Even so, gay Wisconsinites, you had it pretty good under Jim Doyle, and you might as well think of him in heroic terms. Especially now that your governor is Scott Walker, who opposes the domestic-partner policy. And especially now that your lieutenant governor is Rebecca Kleefisch. Interviewed last year, she trotted out, yes, the appalling bestiality canard in declaring her opposition to gay marriage.
She also likened gay marriage to marrying tables and clocks. Those comments don't just reflect her beliefs. They call into question her capacity for rational thought. That should worry all Wisconsinites, not just gay ones.