Dear Tell All: As a gay man in a long-term relationship, I've never felt comfortable in Wisconsin. The state finally made it explicit that my partner and I aren't welcome here in 2006, when voters passed an amendment to the constitution barring same-sex marriage.
Back then, lots of states were passing these amendments, so I didn't feel like I had many options in terms of moving to a better place. On top of that, my partner and I were well established in Madison, which is an island of tolerance. I didn't seriously consider leaving.
Suddenly, that's changed. A quarter of the states now recognize same-sex marriage, and a couple of them are right next-door: Minnesota and Iowa. Why should I stay here when I can put down roots in a place with respect for civil rights? The last straw came last month, after the Internal Revenue Service determined that legally married same-sex couples could file joint tax returns. In response, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue barred us from doing so on state income taxes.
While still stinging from this fresh slap in the face, I read the news about the mayor of Minneapolis touring Wisconsin to invite same-sex couples to get married there. He said it openly: Move to Minnesota and enjoy equal rights. And you know what? That's a hard invitation to turn down. My partner and I have started looking for jobs up there, and if we find something suitable for both of us, we'll consider heading to the promised land.
I moved to Wisconsin years ago because I thought it was a relatively progressive state. I don't know what happened to the place.
Dear Badger: I wish I could convince you to stay. We need all the help we can get in fighting for equal rights in Wisconsin. But I understand the impulse to flee a region that discriminates against you, just as African Americans fled the Jim Crow South during the last century's Great Migration.
If you do leave, I hope it won't be forever. One day, Wisconsin is bound to abandon its modern-day version of Jim Crow laws.
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