Updated December 28, 2005 Compiled & written by Mike Fitzpatrick
Amendment Foes Cheer Progress At "Brokeback Mountain" Premiere Party
Milwaukee - The sold out Wisconsin premiere of Ang Lee's gay-themed "Brokeback Mountain" at the Landmark Oriental Theatre here December 28 brought more than cheers from film buffs seeing what is now being considered a front runner for Oscar kudos. Good news on the progress against the proposed amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution that would ban legal recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions also brought a packed house of the bill's foes to their feet for a standing ovation at the Center Advocates and the "No On The Amendment" Coalition's premiere party at the adjacent Twisted Fork restaurant just prior to the movie's debut.
"No On The Amendment" Campaign Manager Mike Tate predicted that the state will be the first in the country to defeat the marriage and civil union ban at the ballot box. Tate cited three factors in his assessment: Wisconsin's progressive and libertarian-leaning electorate, the unprecedented, on-the-record opposition to the amendment from mainline Protestant denominations, and - most importantly - time for the opposition to get its message out.
Tate compared Wisconsin's voter identification of bill opponents to that of Oregon's, the state that had the closest referendum vote in 2004. "In Oregon they had identified 75,000 voters opposing the ban two days before the election," Tate said. "Here in Wisconsin we've surpassed that number 312 days before the likely vote."
The premiere party also brought good financial news to the opponent's cause, raising over $5000 with just six days' planning and limited promotion. Tate noted money will be key to "No On the Amendment's" success. "We can win this if we can get our message out effectively," Tate said. "That's probably going to take five to six million dollars."
Of course, the premiere party was as much about fun making as about fund raising. In keeping with the "gay cowboy movie" theme of the event, many attending wore denim, jeans, boots and ten-gallon hats. Costumed party goers were awarded "Brokeback Mountain" movie posters. However, appetizers ranging from satay to sushi were far from country-western cuisine.
"Brokeback Mountain," the story of a two decade same-sex relationship between two sheep herders, has turned into a surprise mainstream hit in it's three weeks of limited release. The film has been nominated for seven Golden Globe roles, made numerous top ten critics' lists and now is considered a top contender for Academy Award nods.
Center Advocates and the "No On The Amendment" Coalition have been working hard to "keep discrimination out of Wisconsin's Constitution," according to the Center's political director Patrick Flaherty. More information about the effort is available at www.centeradvocates.org.