From the desk of WFA president Julaine Appling:
“Elections, Citizens, Action and Consequences”
When will we figure it out? Elections really do have consequences. Citizen involvement really does matter. Making a difference really does require action, not just good intentions and a barrage of words. Just ask the residents in Fond du Lac.
This past October, Fond du Lac citizens learned that a newly elected member of their City Council had an agenda different from what he disclosed when he campaigned for the April election. Council member Dan Manning (photo, left) let his fellow council members and the public know that he was proposing adding gender identity or expression to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.
While Mr. Manning didn’t run on this issue, had people really done their homework on this individual, they might not have elected him. Looking at who endorsed him would make it pretty obvious what his agenda would ultimately be. Mr. Manning is an open homosexual, and he was endorsed by Fair Wisconsin, one of the state’s largest pro-homosexual advocacy groups. He also served as co-president of Equality Wisconsin, the state’s other main pro-homosexual organization.
Fair Wisconsin PAC’s endorsement web page states, “Stay tuned for additional endorsement announcements as we continue to reach out in more communities across the state!” That statement tells me that Fair Wisconsin more than likely not only endorsed Mr. Manning but also recruited him. This organization is on a bold mission to get their people actively involved with and elected to local units of government—and they are having success all across the state. I remind you, elections have consequences—real consequences.
Now, the other side of this story is that in other elections in Fond du Lac, some conservatives were elected to the Council, people such as Sam Meyer, the Council president. Mr. Meyer and others on the Council have governed consistent with their ideological bent, just as has Mr. Manning. Again, elections have consequences.
When news of Mr. Manning’s “gender identity or expression” proposal hit the public, some residents of Fond du Lac were rightly alarmed. But they didn’t just read or hear the news, shake their heads, moan and groan and say, “Somebody needs to do something about this.” Instead, they themselves took action. They got fully informed, connected with people who could help them, organized, made phone calls, distributed literature to churches and individuals, encouraged people to show up at the council meeting when the public could speak on this issue and when the council was going to vote on the proposal.
Their involvement and their action paid big dividends. On Monday, November 18, at a special meeting of the Fond du Lac City Council, in a standing-room only council chambers, at least 70 people spoke on this proposed change. More spoke against the policy than in favor of it, but both sides were well represented.
After 3 hours of public comments, the Council deliberated and voted. At the end of the night, the council voted 5 to 1, with one member abstaining, against adopting the proposed wording that would have created yet another special class of protected people and quite possibly would have resulted in creating unsafe situations in some public buildings and very likely would have pitted religious freedom against this form of personal behavior.
This vote in the City of Fond du Lac happened because elections have consequences and more conservatives were on the council than progressive liberals, citizens got informed and involved and did more than just get upset and have good intentions. They took decisive action. By contrast, when the City of Appleton had virtually the same proposal back in September, citizen involvement and coordinated action was lacking and the proposal passed.
Fond du Lac citizens won the first battle in this particular war. However, Mr. Manning has made it very clear that he will bring the issue back, reminding us once again, elections have consequences and that people with Mr. Manning’s agenda never quit—ever. They keep pushing and pushing. They don’t go home when they lose, and they don’t go home when they win. They have a plan, a goal, and they are determined to execute the plan and achieve the goal by winning elections and using highly emotional stories to win over citizens and other elected officials.
The lessons for us? First, we must learn that defending our values requires eternal vigilance. It’s always too soon to quit. And then we must take to heart the truth that elections have very real consequences, citizen involvement makes a real difference, and action changes things, not good intentions.