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Same-sex marriage in Minnesota: Your turn to speak up

Let’s leave the stump speeches to the politicians and speak in nuanced and thoughtful terms about this issue — you are no doubt already doing this in your homes and with friends. This is an invitation to make that conversation public.

Your turn to speak up: Same-sex marriage in Minnesota
CORBIS/Philip James Corwin

We’ve heard plenty from lawmakers in media coverage of the same-sex marriage ban; now it’s your turn. There are few more bedrock issues in our lives than whom we choose to love and marry. Let’s leave the stump speeches to the politicians and speak in nuanced and thoughtful terms about this issue — you are no doubt already doing this in your homes and with friends. This is an invitation to make that conversation public.

Please share this invitation with your friends, family and colleagues. I’ll be reading what you write and pulling some of it up from the comments and into this post to create a living document of the same-sex marriage debate in Minnesota.

See also: Interactive map: Tracking marriage amendment votes

Your Voices

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Note: What you see here are excerpts I’ve chosen from the discussion flourishing in the comments section. Click on a commenter’s name and you’ll be taken to their full comment. There is much more in the comments and I hope what I share here will only drive you there to read more and to add your voice. We’re also sharing comments at our Tumbr blog.

“I see marriage as a civil union, as near as I can tell God doesn’t require paper work. I think a good marriage is tough, it doesn’t matter if your same gender or opposite genders. I think if two people are committed to making it this kind of commitment to each other then they should have all the tools available to them to forge a lasting link. That includes access to the benefits and obligation conferred by other civil documents on a spouse.” – Jody Rooney

“Human beings are born seeking love and the chance to carry that love to another human being. If they are lucky they will find someone compatible and marry … Same sex? Different sex? Love and commitment know no gender.” – Tyra Wahman

“That we have the opportunity to vote on this issue is wrong. We should not have the opportunity to vote on whether people get basic rights. That it is illegal in MN in the first place is wrong.” – Rachel Kahler

“The people of Minnesota will really only be deciding how illegal same-sex marriage should be. If the legislature really wanted to give people a choice, they would introduce an amendment that says, “Minnesota will recognize as a marriage a union between two persons without respect to gender.” Then if we approve it, same-sex marriage is legal; if we don’t, it’s illegal. That would be a real choice.” – Javen Swanson

“What this bill will do is harm people. It will hurt my family. It will hurt my children. Last night I had to tell my 8-year old that we will probably have to get ready to hear a lot of mean, ugly, hurtful things said about our family – a sustained barrage for the next 18 months.” – Kim Klose

“I’m an Iowan by birth, Minnesotan by choice for about 5 years. Needless to say I was beyond proud when my home state took a big step in legalizing same sex marriage. And grossly saddened by the backlash that occured, as represented by the elections last fall. It was a bitter, ugly campaign where one man, Bob Van Der Plaats, took up the cause of banning same sex marriage and spent a lot of money (which was mostly from organizations outside of Iowa) to get rid of 3 judges. I don’t want to see this happen in Minnesota. For crying out loud, Minneapolis was just named the most gay friendly city.” – Kari Koehler

“I greatly hope that sooner or later somebody is fortunate enough to push a civil rights argument before the Supreme Court and we happen to have a receptive judiciary at the time. It would be nice to give this issue a final resting place beside other previously decided civil rights embarrassments in our past.” – Robin Holt

“Yesterday, our state government crashed into my family. In the same day, the Senate voted 1) to put our civil rights up to a vote, inviting our fellow citizens to comment on the rights and limits and value of our relationship; and 2) to cut MinnesotaCare, a program that has made a huge, positive impact on my partner’s health and wellbeing. If my partner loses MinnesotaCare, we don’t have the options that married couples do when it comes to family health insurance; we’ll be hemorrhaging money to ensure basic healthcare access and protection from calamity.” – Abigail Henderson

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“For me as a mother this debate tears at my heart every day. I want my children to have a beautiful life. I want them to have joy and love in that life. My gay son is nearly 30 now. He has worked tirelessly for equality. He should not have to debate his moral worth as a human being. This terrible amendment will bring that debate into every home in this state. When will my son be able to just live his life in equality?” A rainbow flag is flying in our yard today and will be there throughout this long campaign. May rainbows find their way to every street in this state. I want the young gay people who will feel the greatest burden of this debate to see there are loving and supportive families around them” – Randi Reitan

“We have a gay son … If he has sex, the GOP would rather he have it outside the sanctity of marriage. Aren’t they the party that advocates family values? … We know what this is really all about: creating a diversionary issue and rallying the base. And for that they will deprive good people of their rights.” – Doug Seitz

“I am a divorce attorney. Believe me when I say that straight people have not perfected this marriage thing. Actually, they have made a horrific mess of it. If same-sex couples want in on this messy, complicated, hard, albeit wonderful institution we call marriage, I’m all for it. There’s no way they could diminish the sanctity of marriage more than we straight people already have.” – Elizabeth Drotning Hartwell

“My partner Linda and I have been together for almost 25 years. Two years ago we were legally married in Iowa with our sons by our sides. It was one of the most wonderful days of our lives. Our marital rights and responsibilities ended in the middle of a corn field as we crossed the Minnesota Border.

“My sons are two well-adjusted, kind-hearted, engaged Minnesota youth who are active in their church, school, and neighborhood. My oldest son Quintin, 15, watched the news segment from the Senate Judicial Committee on April 29. 2011. With a total look of shock on his face all he could say was ‘why are they so mean?’ For my family this is not simply a ‘divisive issue’ that deserves a people’s vote. It strikes to the core of our family, our lives, and our love. It puts our lives up for a vicious public relations campaign and places our access to rights up to a vote by the majority. How can this possibly be good for the Minnesota I love?” – Laura Smidzik

“There was never a more terrifying and humiliating moment in my life than the day before my breast cancer surgery, when I had to rush to update my last will and testament, sign over power of attorney to my partner, Cheryl, and then find a notary to sign it all.

“And there was never a more glorious day than that next afternoon when I woke up in the hospital with Cheryl at my side. This woman saved my life when she married me twenty years ago. She helped me build a home, a family and a business.

“Please vote against the amendment that would ban our chance at civil marriage.” – Michele Harris

“I am a gay man who is in a relationship with a wonderful man. We are not among the wealthy. We are barely middle class. I am unable to work because I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I am thankfully cared for with help from Hennepin County and my devoted partner who works so very hard at his job, and he is a part time student.

“We are already second class citizens in the sense that we cannot apply for assistance as a family. Because my partner makes too much money he cannot apply for assistance for himself. Yet in Hennepin County in order for me to qualify for a once a year help with paying our rent, I have to submit his income information as my “roommate” to show that he can pay the remainder of the rent for the month we receive help.” – Philip Lowe, Jr.

“I feel very strongly that marriage is a social institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman. Please don’t label all of us as bigoted conservatives if we don’t agree with same sex marriage. I believe that more than anything the semantics of marriage confuse the debate. I am not against the civil rights or legal protections of any individual, rather it is the “tradition” (you don’t have to remind me of how marriage has changed over the centuries) of that one man and one woman in which I feel marriage should be defined.” – Karl Struck

“I am an ELCA pastor; take that as disclosure in weighing my comments. I do not speak for Christians in general. It’s possible I don’t speak for Lutherans in general, but I do speak for theologically trained Lutherans. In Lutheran theology marriage is a civic institution, governed by the state. The state determines who can, and who cannot, get married. Thus, in Lutheran theology, the question of same gender marriage is a civic discussion: how shall the state treat same sex couples? As a civic question, it is a question of civil rights. Is it right to deny the benefits awarded by the state to a minority?” – Mark Rittmann

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“I am Ian. I am 6. I have 2 moms. I care about other people who have 2 moms or 2 dads, not just about myself. I care about other people! And the communities! We depend on other people. If we aren’t being a community it’s not going to be a country. It’s going to be a de-country. Being a community means help other people. If you aren’t being nice to people, they would be mad.” – Ian Rosenburg-Scholl, 6, in a letter to Sen. Warren Limmer