By Jennifer Morales Special to Published Nov 06, 2006 at 5:16 PM

Want to know the zeitgeist of the critical college vote on the proposed constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage? Here's a snippet from one of Wisconsin's college papers, from a letter to the editor of the UW-Platteville Exponent:

"When our founders first framed the Constitution, the only citizens who were allowed to vote were propertied white men. Since that time, Americans have amended the document to give non-property owners, black Americans, women and American Indians the right to vote. As our nation has grown, the Constitution has grown to reflect our expanding notion of civil liberty.

"In sharp contrast to that tradition, some are proposing to amend our state's constitution to limit the civil rights of a specific group that they deem to be not worthy. This fact should be alarming to all who love freedom. I am alarmed enough to speak out and vote no."

A leftist battle cry? An argument from a neo-hippy political science major? Nope. It's a letter from Dawn Freese, UWP English student and wife of Wisconsin state representative Steve Freese. Her Republican husband was a legislative co-sponsor of the anti-civil unions and marriage amendment.

Mrs. Freese is in good company. Last night, I went door-to-door on Milwaukee's South Side, visiting no-on-the-amendment voters and reminding them to vote. The first thing I noticed about my list of 70 targeted voters was that 60 of them were women. There must be a lot of divided households out there. One after the other, my female voters answered the door, quietly taking the literature and thanking me for the reminder, all the while looking over their shoulder for their husbands or fathers.

One dad called through the house for the 20-something daughter to come see me at the door: "Ashley! It's one of your Democratic friends again." I laughed as I encouraged her to vote, whispering to her that she should let her dad know that many of our No voters are Republicans.

Republicans who yearn for small government, or who cherish their privacy rights, are opposing this amendment, the epitome of invasive, big-government mentality. Republican former congressman Steve Gunderson came out last week against the amendment, for these very reasons, and joined a wide circle of Republicans voting No.

I raise my morning cup of coffee to all those freedom-loving wives, daughters and Republicans, all over the state, who are going to vote No tomorrow. It takes courage to stand up for civil rights -- especially in those divided households -- and I applaud you all.

Jennifer Morales Special to

Jennifer Morales is an elected member of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, the first person of Latino descent to hold that position. She was first elected in 2001 and was unopposed for re-election in 2005. In 2004, she ran for a seat in the Wisconsin state senate, earning 43% of the vote against a 12-year incumbent.

Previously, she served as the editorial assistant at the educational journal Rethinking Schools; as assistant director of two education policy research centers at UW-Milwaukee; and as the development director for 9to5, National Association of Working Women.

She became the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college, earning a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literatures from Beloit College in 1991.

In addition to her work on the school board, she is a freelance editorial consultant and a mother.