Rachel & Lachele’s Wedding

I hold some conservative views.

One of them is that we should honor hard work. That’s why I support a higher — much higher — minimum wage. I understand that increasing the minimum wage will probably eliminate a relatively small number of jobs in the short-run, but I think it’s important in the long-run for society to send the message that work is rewarded. It shouldn’t be possible in this society to work full-time and still live in poverty.

And I also think we should encourage people to get married. In addition to better pay, an excellent way to stay out of poverty is to get and to stay married. It’s also good for raising children.

Now, of course, lots of people have long-term committed relationships and they never bother to pick up the piece of paper, and that’s fine. But for those of us who like a good party and who need stuff on our registry from Target, a wedding is a nice thing.

What makes me think about this is that I was at a wedding over the weekend in Door County. It was the first wedding I have been to where both of the main participants were brides, but other than that it was pretty much your standard-issue wedding, although a very nice one. The setting on the shores of Lake Michigan was stunning, the weather was perfect, the ceremony was brief, touching, genuine and even entertaining. The food at the reception was excellent. There was Door County cherry cobbler and ice cream for desert. Cocktails were available. Nobody made me dance. What’s not to like?

My wife Dianne (we’ve been married for 33 years, four of which were the best years of her life, she says) and I were there because we know one of the brides. Rachel Strauch-Nelson worked in the mayor’s office as one of my communications directors. Her job was to make me sound coherent. She had a hard job.

Anyway, this brings me around to my political point for today — you knew there would be one. We should be concerned about an idiotic comment made by Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels last week. Michels, who I gently chided in a recent blog for being a jerk, said that he was against gay marriage.

That would not have been notable a decade ago, but since the Supreme Court decision making it a right, Democrats have embraced gay marriage while Republicans usually just want to change the subject. Even former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who once said that allowing same sex unions would lead to people marrying animals and inanimate objects, has said that she accepts it, if somewhat grudgingly. (And, I would assume, she’s on the lookout for the marriage of her poodle to her desk.)

Rachel and Lachele at their reception dinner.

But now Michels, who seems the odds-on-favorite to win his party’s nomination, has staked out retrograde territory. I doubt that was a slip of the tongue. With the impending demise of Roe v. Wade, it’s possible that national legal protections for gay marriage could fall right along with the right to privacy that underpins Roe. If that happens there will be pressure among the Republican base to try to roll back legal protections for other rights (but certainly not including the right to own assault rifles). Michels may just want to be on the cutting edge of moving backwards.

I still hold out some hope that Chief Justice John Roberts, who keeps an eye on history and how the “Roberts Court” will be viewed, has been working behind the scenes to try to save some remnants of Roe or to find a way to overturn it without overturning the implied right to privacy. We’ll see very soon.

Roberts may be conservative but he doesn’t want his court to be on the wrong side of history, and history is clear. Two-thirds of Americans support Roe and about the same percentage support gay marriage. Even American Catholics support both with significant majorities. We have an ultra-conservative high court that it is way out of synch with where the bulk of the American people are at.

And the heck of it is that “conservative” is the very last thing this is. Marriage is the most bourgeois of customs. It is the most normal of society norms. It fosters stability, child-rearing, PTA membership, home ownership, neighborhood association membership, kids’ soccer leagues and, not least significantly, property tax payments. Conservatives should be encouraging marriage, or at the very least not throwing up barriers to it, among anyone who wants to dive in.

Rachel’s wedding was lovely on every level, but what I really liked about it was that it was so normal. It was a celebration of commitment and stability and the building of a better society one family at a time. Let’s not allow that to be torn asunder.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

One thought on “Rachel & Lachele’s Wedding

  1. I appreciate the message in this post, thanks. I would like to take solace in your assessment that Justice Roberts is concerned with how history will view this court. But I don’t really believe it. If the majority really deep down believe the things they say they believe then of course they will act to overturn these cases. The religious belief it appears the majority have could just as well make them think they will go down in history as heroes.

    Remember that religion is by definition a frame of thought that is detached from reality and rational thinking. This isn’t a insult to religion, it’s just a statement that religion is about faith, and faith is comprised of things that aren’t built up with logic. Faith is the set of fundamental assumptions upon which one’s rational and reality-based thinking is built upon. If someone (say, a Supreme Court Justice) believes they will have eternal reward in the afterlife for doing a certain thing it becomes rational to do the thing no matter how unpopular it might be in the living world.

    All of us, even non-religious people, build our rational world on fundamental assumptions about what is right and wrong. These aren’t (and I’d argue can’t be) rational facts, they’re opinions.

    And the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction is the world of opinions, not facts. They dress this stuff up with facts, and build up references and case law to support their conclusions, but they remain opinions. Note that the majority of cases are not unanimous – highlighting that their decisions are not universally accepted as truth or fact even among themselves – they are law, but law need not be rational nor supported by fact.

    They can literally do whatever they wish. Their recent opinion on the power of Border Patrol agents is a case in point. They threw away the plain language reading of the 4th amendment just because they wanted to. They didn’t have to because of some inescapable logic that painted them in a corner, they just wanted to. They need not be swayed by arguments, if an opinion is already held it’s human nature to cherry pick facts that support one’s opinion and ignore facts that do not. We like to think these Justices are above such human pettiness, but I don’t actually believe that to be true.

    You know the phrase about absolute power, well they have it.


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