A couple years back, the Wisconsin legislature was all in a lather about the three most pressing issues facing our state:
Political junkies summarized that 2004 legislative session as "God, Guns, 'n' Gays." For April Fool's Day that year, state Rep. Mark Pocan offered a bill that would tie up the loose ends on two of the above proposals by allowing Wisconsinites to marry their guns.
Pocan's press release noted, "The conceal and carry law had a lot more to do with a man spending more quality time with his gun than anything else. Let's recognize that within the constitution. Finally, someone can live up to the bumper sticker - 'My wife, yes. My dog, maybe. My gun, never.'"
Silly, I know, but to stay sane in the elected official business you need either a really good sense of humor or a worthwhile distraction. Recently, I chose the latter: I'm teaching Sunday school (OK, so it's the church school director who has a sense of humor.).
I started this past weekend. I checked the lesson book and dutifully looked up the selected Bible text I was to teach my middle school class: Genesis 19. Great, I thought, Sodom and Gomorrah on the first day of Sunday school. I imagined all the kids going home to their parents and casually mentioning that the new teacher, Ms. Jennifer, taught them the Bible story about mob violence, homosexuality, and gang rape.
The pastor mercifully allowed me to choose a different text, and save the lot of Lot for later in the year, but I'm still sweating over the subject. Seen in the current context of Milwaukee, with our kids awash in news stories about that 11-year-old girl who was raped by 19 men and boys, maybe God's fury in Genesis 19 is more relevant than ever. But this sociopolitical moment is also drenched in anti-gay fervor, and Genesis 19 is often used to justify all sorts of discrimination against gay people, such as Wisconsin's proposed constitutional ban on civil unions and same-sex marriage.
I guess I wanted to start the church school year out on a quieter note, to give me and the class some time to get to know each other before we tackle the messier questions. Our political leaders could give that a try, too, before making hot-button legislative proposals that play to the extremes and overlook real human needs.
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 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.