A candidate in the Republican primary for the Third U.S. Congressional district said Tuesday that a recent federal ruling striking down Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban could lead to incestuous marriages.
Karen Mueller, an attorney from Chippewa Falls, spoke about the issue with her two opponents, Army veteran Tony Kurtz, Prairie du Chien, and building contractor Ken Van Doren, Mauston, at a “Meet the Candidates” event in Tomah sponsored by the Republican Party of Monroe County.
Mueller said the argument that any two people who are committed to each other should by allowed to marry must, by extension, apply to members of the same family.
“We’ve got, for instance, two sisters, and these two sisters want to get married. They love each other. They are committed to each other. They want to spend the rest of their life together,” Mueller said.
She said their lawyers could argue, “‘We can just do away with that state law the same way we did away with sodomy laws.’ Once you do away with that, you reveal what is really going on here.”
Mueller said the legal cases are about the financial benefits of marriage, not love. She rejected the idea that banning same-sex marriage is discriminatory.
“That’s not true. They can get married. They just can’t get married to each other,” Mueller said.
Mueller believes same-sex marriage bans can survive legal scrutiny, but Van Doren isn’t as optimistic.
“This is a battle I fear we are losing,” Van Doren said.
Van Doren isn’t sure what Republicans can do to stop same-sex marriage in the present political and judicial environment.
“What they are really after is the employee benefits, I believe,” Van Doren said.
Van Doren argued for disconnecting health insurance and retirement accounts from employment.
“I think that will eliminate the incentive for the gays to get married,” Van Doren said.
Van Doren said U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling earlier this month that struck down Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional and violated state’s rights.
“Let’s get the government out of it altogether,” Van Doren said.
Kurtz believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and Wisconsin’s civil union law is appropriate.
“I like what we have in Wisconsin, and I wish the federal government would stay out of our business,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz said it is a states’ rights issue and the federal court overstepped its bounds.
All three candidates called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which was supported by incumbent Third District Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse.
Kurtz attacked Kind’s support for the law.
“He told all of us in this district that you can keep your doctor, you can keep your healthcare plan, and it was going to save all this money,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz said the law is costing men and women their insurance and the U.S. “unbelievable amounts of money.”
“I want to repeal it, but I do want to replace it with something based on free-market principles where people can get policies across state lines, where you have tort reform, and you also have risk polls for those people who do have pre-existing conditions,” Kurtz said.
Van Doren argued that ACA has increased healthcare costs over the past two years.
“It puts a bureaucrat between you and your doctor ... It cannot be reformed. It must be repealed,” Van Doren said.
Mueller agreed, adding that the law is unconstitutional.
“One of the problems with Obamacare from a constitutional perspective is that embedded within the Obamacare legislation was the mandate to take away the freedom to decide to not fund abortions, to not pay for abortions, to not pay for contraceptives,” Mueller said.
Mueller said the law puts “the right of conscience” at risk.
The candidates also answered questions on term limits, which all three said they favor.
They will square off in the Republican primary Aug. 12. The general election is Nov. 4.