By Jennifer Morales Special to Published Sep 11, 2006 at 11:54 AM

I was looking for something about Gov. Doyle's re-election campaign on the Internet this morning and, following a link that I thought looked relevant, I was led to someone's blog post that included some comments about my coming out this summer as a lesbian. That blogger referred to another blog on the topic, and that one led to another one, and on and on.

The most interesting thing about this chain of commentary is that, with only one exception, all the bloggers (presumably straight males, every one) insisted that my coming out didn't matter. They spent a lot of digital ink on this non-topic, and it was kind of funny to read them trying to outdo each other in their claims about how much it didn't matter.

Polling this summer on the proposed state ban on civil unions and same-sex marriage shows that it does indeed matter when gay people come out. In the July Badger Poll from the University of Wisconsin, 70 percent of respondents who don't know someone who is gay or lesbian supported the ban, while only 41 percent of respondents who do have a gay acquaintance supported the ban. Every LGBT person who comes out between now and Nov. 7 will have an impact on the constitutional ban's fate. It matters.

The bloggers make it sound like no one cares about who's gay and who isn't. What world do they live in? They should get outside on a Saturday evening once in a while and walk down the street. See any same-sex couples holding hands? No. See a whole bunch of opposite-sex couples holding hands, making out, or more? Yes. LGBT people don't hold hands on the street because the difference matters to some people.

And, by the way, if gayness doesn't matter, what is that constitutional ban doing on the statewide ballot this fall? Apparently, to a majority of Republican state legislators it matters quite a bit.

I came out the day before PrideFest here in Milwaukee, and I had the opportunity to speak at the rally that opened the festival. When I gave credit to the several Wisconsin LGBT elected officials who came out before me, the crowd went crazy with applause. These pioneers matter.

When I rode in the Pride parade this year, many people on the sidelines shouted, "Thank you!" Many of these folks I recognized as MPS students, parents, and employees, people I represent on the school board. To them, my coming out matters. It says I'm with them and looking out for their best interests in our schools and community.

If the bloggers are right, if gay doesn't matter, I challenge all Wisconsinites to prove it by voting no on the ban on civil unions and same-sex marriage. Jennifer Morales is a two-term member of the Milwaukee School Board, representing the East Side and South Side. She ran for state senate in 2004.


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.