Seymour Lefco, who was, among many other, much more important things, a supporter of my school board work, died on Monday.
I was at his house once, when I was campaigning. He had already heard about me and given my campaign a check, so I guess I got his vote. He invited me in and I met his wife, Rachel, and we talked about vouchers. He considered Milwaukee's school voucher program a political Frankenstein's monster, cobbled together from bits and pieces of various conservative and neoliberal agendas, and one that he particularly wanted to skewer on the business end of a pitchfork.
Seymour Lefco was my kind of citizen: one who delved deeply into the public debate and who stayed actively involved until the end. I wish there were more Seymour Lefcos in the world.
Next to the article was something else that caught my eye: an obituary for a man I'll just call Stephen. The very brief memorial is headlined, "In Loving Memory of My Partner," and is signed by Stephen's partner, Michael.
As a lesbian involved in the Fair Wisconsin campaign to defeat the upcoming constitutional ban on civil unions and gay marriage, I feel for Michael. I don't know anything else about his relationship, but I do know that when Stephen died, it was in a country where his partner can count on very little: no automatic inheritance of property, no guaranteed rights to make funeral decisions, no transfer of Social Security benefits -- all things that straight couples would take for granted.
This little message from Michael to Stephen is a small beacon of love through the darkness of discrimination. It's painful to accept the loss of a loved one, but it's even harder when you're being told that your loving relationship is invalid in the eyes of the law.
My deep sympathy to Rachel, and to Michael.
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.