The city of Madison, Wis., will allow public officeholders to protest the state’s gay marriage ban when they’re sworn in this April, adding this caveat to their oaths: “I pledge to work to eliminate this section from the constitution … and work to prevent any discriminatory impacts from its application.”

Los Angeles Times:

In a move that has raised concern on the left and the right, the City Council this week voted to let officeholders announce they are taking the oath under protest because they deplore a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

After swearing to uphold the state constitution, officeholders will be allowed to add that, in their view, the gay-marriage amendment “besmirches” that document. “I pledge to work to eliminate this section from the constitution,” the protest statement reads, “and work to prevent any discriminatory impacts from its application.”

Madison Mayor David J. Cieslewicz called the statement a fair way to resolve a “crisis of conscience” in his famously liberal city. “Many of us felt that we couldn’t, in good conscience, swear allegiance to a state constitution that openly discriminated against gays and lesbians,” he said.

Making a political statement after an oath of office is not a novel idea, he added: “Politicians do it all the time. It’s called an inauguration speech.”

But critics said they were troubled by what they considered a pledge — en masse — to undermine the laws of the land the officeholders had only moments earlier sworn to uphold.

“This is a trashing of democracy,” said Julaine K. Appling, chief executive of the nonprofit Family Research Institute of Wisconsin, a conservative advocacy group. “Officeholders have to uphold the constitution. They don’t get to pick and choose.”

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