Yes, this would in effect put discrimination into the state constitution and for a variety of reasons, it is essential that folks vote NO on this issue. It is also essential that folks reach out with love and compassion to anyone affected by the climate of hostility and fear which has already begun to creep into the state. Because, same sex families are afraid. They (we) are afraid that the attention drawn to same sex couples will increase the incidence of hate crimes. Folks (us) are afraid that the passage of this amendment will lead to further laws that limit the rights of GLBT people in the state. Folks are afraid for their children--afraid that their children will be denied the legal protections of two legally married parents. Folks are concerned that Minnesota will begin to be seen as hostile to GLBT families and that people will leave the state for friendly climes (just as one of the reasons we left Ohio were state laws which forbid "unmarried" couples from jointly adopting children--which meant that no matter how we formed our family, in Ohio any children we have would only be allowed one legal parent).
Now, there are several organizations working to protect gay and lesbian families in the state. One of these is OutFront Minnesota; another is Minnesotans United For All Families (they are doing amazing work) and another is the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. Last night I had the privilege of attending a gathering at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in St. Paul of folks who are interested in keeping this conversation around the amendment civil and respectful. The presenter, Mark Osler, gave a list of 5 ways in which we can keep this conversation in a place of respect and dignity (if you would like to read his sentiments on this issue click here ).
- Talk to people who disagree with you. If you only talk to the people who agree with you, you will never have the chance to change someone's mind.
- Anger is valuable, but not as advocacy. Dont lead with anger... It won't change minds and anger negates the power and persuasion of your point of view.
- Start with common ground...for example folks on both sides say they care about family. Face the same direction and find strength in your shared conviction.
- Affirm their interest. For example, "it's great you care about kids...gays and lesbians have kids. Kids need security of marriage." Or, if they are against abortion remind them that gay and lesbian folk adopt--and often adopt children with special needs or who are older and harder to place in homes. Help them see it matters
- End with respect. People remember the last emotion they felt in the conversation. People change over time so end with respect so the conversation can continue.
Finally, he suggests reminding folks that Jesus calls us to love, not judgment. And, that at the end of the day we must love one another.
I will leave with a picture to illustrate why this issue hits close to home and why I pray that folks will vote no on this amendment