Wisconsin Becomes 27th State to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

On Friday afternoon, June 6, 2014, marriage equality arrived in Wisconsin. Judge Barbara Crabb of the United States District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, held Wisconsin’s “marriage amendment” to be unconstitutional.

Article XIII, section 13 of Wisconsin’s constitution provides that “[o]nly a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.” This amendment was passed by Wisconsin voters in November 2006. Since that time, however, a number of states have extended the right to marry to same-sex couples, and other state bans on same-sex marriages have been struck down by federal judges. At the federal level, the United States Supreme Court last summer struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, thus requiring the federal government to recognize state-sanctioned marriages of same-sex couples.

Earlier this year, the ACLU filed Wolf v. Walker in federal court, challenging the marriage amendment. The plaintiffs in Wolf are eight same-sex couples who live in Wisconsin. Some of those couples have been legally married in other states and want Wisconsin to recognize their marriages; others want to marry and would do so in Wisconsin but for the marriage amendment. On Friday, June 6, 2014, they got their wish.

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It’s Officially Summer: What’s on Your Recreational Reading List?


For those of us in and around the law school, the close of the academic year is often a time to catch up on all of that recreational reading we’ve been wanting to do. Maybe your recreational reading is a non-fiction book on a topic you’ve been wanting to learn more about; maybe it’s a classic you’ve read before (or have always wanted to read); maybe it’s the newest fiction you plan on reading on the beach. Whatever your choice of a for-fun read, let’s start a list here.

After many, many months, I finally finished Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, a book I finished just to say that I finished it.

I will recommend, however, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. I downloaded the full book to my Kindle quite by accident; I meant to download just the sample because I just wasn’t sure about it. But within just a few days, I had finished the entire book. The writing was engaging and lively, and although it was easy to figure out the connection between Fern (the sister) and Rosemary (the narrator), the “why” of it all kept me reading until the end. (See here for a book review.) Fowler also wrote The Jane Austen Book Club, a book that was not nearly as interesting or as lively as We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

A few of my favorite reads from last summer include all three of Stieg Larsson’s books: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. (Read with care – the subject matter is graphic and can be disturbing.) And although I am not a Hemingway fan, I did enjoy The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

This summer, I may make it through Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century; it’s pretty thick, so I may end up being satisfied with reading the reviews. Also on my list are John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

What are your recommendations for a summer read?

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Even More Commonly Confused Words

Below are just a few more commonly confused words, with those post adding to this one and this one on the same topic.

Although/while – A former student recently asked me about this combination. There isn’t, as far as I can tell, a hard and fast rule on when to use each of these terms, but there may be preferred usage, and that’s what I’ll explain here.  “Although” tends to mean “in spite of the fact that.” According to Mignon Fogarty, also known as Grammar Girl, “although” is called a concessive conjunction, which means that it expresses a concession. For example, Although he admits he saw her in the crosswalk, he drove through the intersection anyway.

“While” can also mean “in spite of the fact that,” but it can also mean “at the same time.” The same sentence with the word “while” instead of “although” now has one of two different meanings. While he admits he saw her in the crosswalk, he drove through the intersection anyway. In that construction, the sentence could mean that in spite of the fact that he saw her in the crosswalk, he chose to keep driving through the intersection. This sentence might imply some indifference on the driver’s part, which may (or may not) matter to the meaning of the sentence. This same sentence could also mean that at the same time that he saw her in the crosswalk, he drove through the intersection. Perhaps there’s less driver indifference with that construction.  “While” meaning “at the same time” is more clearly illustrated in this sentence: While Patrick raked the lawn, I cleaned the windows. In that sentence, the reader more clearly gets the sense that Patrick and I are each doing two separate tasks at the same time.

The difference between “although” and “while” may be slight, but when you’re striving for precision in your writing, you might be wise to choose “although” when you’re making a concession and “while” when you really mean “at the same time.”  

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