[Content Note: Homophobia.]
Next week, Minnesotans will vote on Amendment 1: Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?
I will vote NO.
I've lived in Minnesota for 40 of my 41 years (I did a brief stint 3 miles across the border in Faro, North Dakota in the early 90's). I began coming out at the age of 15. I grew up on a farm, and now live in a small town of 5,000 people in Southeastern Minnesota. I have a life I love, and I'm grateful for it.
And yet, in my state – a place I love and am proud to call home, the home of Paul Wellstone and so many other iconic progressive and liberal people – some people are trying to use this amendment to cement my status as a second-class citizen. I doubt you'd be surprised to learn that I think that's a bad idea. We hear all the usual arguments: "Children need two different-sex parents"; "Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve"; "Marriage is for procreation"; "We shouldn't redefine marriage"; "Let the voters decide" (don't even get me started…); "What about religious freedom?" (indeed…what about that?); etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum. SRSLY. OMG-BBQ-STFU.
I am pretty sure that I don't need to fill space on this blog explaining why all the Usual Arguments are utter garbage (and ridiculously transparent veils for bigotry). It's obvious to me that most of the "arguments" are really just facades for "I think gay sex is icky," or some variation thereof. And that's not why I'm writing.
I'm also not writing because I think it's a sure thing that we'll defeat this amendment. It's not. Polls tell us that the two sides of this issue are tied. There's also evidence that suggests polling typically underestimates anti-equality sentiment in these races.
I'm writing because I Have Hope. Yes, I really do. Even though 30 out of 30 other states have approved a constitutional amendment of this kind, I do have hope that we'll break the trend. Many of us are working so hard, and we have to do so with a hopeful heart.
I have hope that this time that Minnesota will get it right because the circumstances seem a little different:
- A sitting President has declared his personal support for marriage equality.
- Public opinion is shifting, and quite rapidly at that.
- The campaign to defeat this amendment has focused almost exclusively on building a coalition that is talking about our values, not opposing bigots. They speak in positive, forward-looking terms, and by doing so have gathered nearly 700 community groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations on the side of equality and fairness. There has been very high-profile opposition to the amendment. From outspoken (and AWESOME!) Minnesota Viking Chris Kluwe, to former (Republican) Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, to a crews of Catholic parishioners who are making phone calls and knocking on doors, Minnesotans are being reminded that this amendment is not in line with our state's rich history of fairness for all.
- The primary strategist who pushed the measure through the state legislature (and who has since been disgraced in a widely publicized sex scandal with the state GOP's former Speaker of the House) has now (a) come out against the amendment, and (b) admitted it was a ploy to get conservatives to the polls in a crucial election year.
Next week, it'll be over. Until then, I'll be working to get out the vote and help get a few more folks to see how hurtful this amendment is. Until then, I hold tightly to my hope. If we prevail, I'll be the happiest GoldFishy around. If not…well, I just don't know. I will most certainly be hurt, and sad, and perhaps temporarily inconsolable.
Either way, I'll try to remember the amazing things done by amazing people so that maybe someday I might be an equal citizen in my home state.