By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The fight Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin began three and a half years ago and on the night of Monday, April 13, the team’s hard work came to fruition.
Earlier this week, the results for the Spring General Election were released. Marsy’s Law was a referendum on the ballot with the voters having the option to vote yes or no. The amendment, which provides and strengthens victims’ rights, would change the Wisconsin Constitution if it received the majority vote, which it did.
To celebrate the win, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin held a Zoom meeting, since quarantine prohibits large group gatherings.
Teri Jendusa-Nicolai, the state chair for Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, reflected on the team’s victory and what it means for her.
In 2004, Jendusa-Nicolai was beaten, thrown into a cooler full of snow, locked in a storage unit and left for dead by her ex-husband.
Eventually she was found and can tell her story. Since then, she’s been an advocate for victims’ rights.
“She turned her tragedy into personal triumph,” said Mark Graul, a member of Marsys’s Law for Wisconsin. “Her courage and her determination are truly inspirational.”
Graul cited Jendusa-Nicolai’s efforts and those of the other survivors as one of the reasons Marsy’s Law won.
Jendusa-Nicolai said that Marsy’s Law has become a huge part of her life. It means a lot, she said, adding that there was never a doubt in her mind that Marsy’s Law would win.
“I think the voters really took a stand today,” she said. “The voters said we support victims.”
It’s common sense, she said. People know it is right and voters demonstrated their support for victims by supporting yes. Jendusa-Nicolai offered her gratitude and thanks on the behalf of all survivors in Wisconsin.
State Sen. Van Wanggaard has been a strong advocate for Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin and has been a key figure in the amendment’s success.
According to Graul, Wanggaard was the senate officer for the law and the leader in the senate concerning the efforts for Marsy’s Law in Wisconsin. He also helped develop the amendment’s language.
Wanggaard said part of the reason for the amendment’s success is the people and the effort put forth by everyone. This doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a lot of effort, he said.
Everyone came together as a team and were persistent, he said. Wanggaard said that whenever naysayers came at the team with the negative, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin stood its ground and fired back with the positive.
“This is going to establish dignity and respect and a position for the victim, because victims don’t choose to be victims no matter what anybody says,” Wanggaard said.
Victims become an unwilling partner and they should be a part of the process, he said.
Dr. Henry Nicholas, the founder of Marsy’s Law for All, also hopped on the call. Nicholas’ sister Marsy was murdered in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. After running into the accused in a grocery store, Nicholas created Marsy’s Law to provide protection for victims.
Nicholas thanked the efforts of the survivors and the Wisconsin team. “Today is your victory,” he said. He said Wisconsin’s win is another step in the direction to get victims rights nationwide.
“Tomorrow our cause moves forward,” he said. “Our real objective is to have the 28th amendment to the United States of America and to the Constitution be Marsy’s Law.”
As far as Wisconsin is concerned, the crime victims’ constitutional amendment will go into effect when the election is certified, according to Myranda Tanck, director of external and corporate communications for Platform Communications. Certification is expected to take place in a month.
Victims will now be able to be protected under Wisconsin’s Constitution. The amendment does not strip away defendant’s rights, but rather puts both on equal footing. For additional information on Marsy’s Law visit equalrightsforwi.com