Monday, January 30, 2012

Minnesota, Vote NO on Defining and Limiting Marriage

We are asked to vote on an amendment to our state constitution this year that, if passed, will define marriage as only between a man and a woman! Please, Minnesota, do not vote for this constitutional amendment. Please vote NO!
by Charlie Leck

Minnesota and Minnesotans will face a distasteful choice when they enter the voting booth this fall and I hope we will stand tall and proud and fair and neighborly and vote NO on this amendment.

I read an essay very recently by one of Minnesota’s best known citizens, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, who also asked that we vote against this amendment. Her request came from the deepest part of her heart and it was bold, dramatic and forthright. Ms. Nelson is the daughter of the late Curt Carlson and she has served for many years as the CEO of the Carlson Companies, one of the nation’s largest privately owned corporations. She is also the mother of a lesbian and this gives her a significant understanding of this issue – an understanding that many of us don’t have.

I urge you to read her appeal in its entirety at…

Here’s how the extraordinary Ms. Carlson Nelson begins her essay…

“We Minnesotans are blessed to live in a state that others envy, study and model. Minnesota is home to more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state. The Mayo Clinic and General Mills are regulars on Fortune's "Best Places to Work" list.
“We tout the nation's best biking trails and more theater seats per capita than any other metro area outside of New York City, and we're recognized for being the best region for working mothers.
“Dubbed one of ‘America's Top Brainpower Cities,’ Minneapolis leads the nation with 93 percent of its citizens earning high school diplomas and claims the highest volunteer rate in the country. We consistently lead the nation in voter turnout.
“And, to top it off, several Minnesota cities are cited as some of the best places in the country to live. We are indeed blessed.
“This year, we have another blessing – of an unusual sort. We have the opportunity to decide as a community if we will amend our state Constitution to include a ban on the right of same-sex couples to marry.
“My prediction and my hope is that we will resist. Our history suggests we will.
“With all of Minnesota's accomplishments and high rankings, it would be easy to be lulled into complacency. But a review of our past suggests that we are always mindful that culture is not inherited. It is created anew by each generation.
“We are especially adept at asking ourselves: ‘Is this who we want to be? Are we living our values?’
“And if we don't like the answer, we have many times ‘righted the culture’ to better reflect those values in our institutions, our corporations and our communities.”

Oh my, let’s be fair and kind to those who deserve as much as I, to have a life’s companion they can love and cherish – and with whom they can share all the legal rights that come to a couple through marriage.

At another point, Ms. Carlson Nelson says…

“While not perfect, we have consistently, through the generations, righted the culture to more clearly define who we are as Minnesotans -- a people of integrity, inclusiveness and decency, with an overriding sense of the common good.
Wouldn't it be presumptuous of us to impose today's biases on same-sex marriage on future generations? Do we want to shackle our grandchildren, perhaps for decades, with the vitriolic debate and sometimes violence that have preceded the great human-rights victories of our nation?"

Over the years I have learned, not by any effort but through utter collisions with the truth, that most gays and lesbians are what they are by the facts of birth and their inheritance of genetic identities. In other words, you or I could quite possibly have been born as something other than heterosexual (and maybe we were). Why should a person born into that sexual identity be punished by the laws – by the Constitution – of the state in which he/she lives?

Ms. Carlson Nelson urges us to not “constitutionally mandate discrimination.” Her argument is that it “is bad for business and bad for the economic opportunities of all Minnesotans.” I prefer to just lay on you the argument that it is just downright unfair and cruel. And, I believe, that it is, in the end, Ms. Carlson Nelson’s case as well.

She says how painful it would be to cut out of her life and work the many wonderful gay friends and associates she has had – “friends, family and colleagues” – “people who through a lifetime of ups and downs have laughed with me, supported me and enriched me.” – “the hundreds of highly talented employees who have helped make Carlson a globally competitive and respected company” – “And most painful of all.. my daughter.”

Her daughter, you see, is lesbian because she was born that way. She didn’t become that way through encounters with the wrong people or because she wasn’t raised correctly or as some kind of religious punishment. It IS who she IS.

Oh, how I wish this amendment were not on the ballot, but perhaps there will be a blessing in it. Perhaps Minnesota will rise up and once again show its understanding and basic fairness. Perhaps Minnesota and Minnesotans will rise up and vote NO.

Again, you can read Marilyn Carlson Nelson’s wonderful essay here.

MINNESOTA UNITED FOR FAMILIES is an organization set up to work against this constitutional amendment. It is well organized and endorsed by many, many important community organizations. I've donated to them and I hope you will too. You can also volunteer to help them in many different ways.

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1 comment:

  1. Here's a good clip on the topic - Governor Gregoire of Washington:
    My son asked me today, "What is DADT?" "It means Don't Ask Don't Tell" I told him. He gave me a puzzled look (of course he's way too young to understand the issue). I just told him, "It's not a good thing, because everyone should be able to say how they feel, right?" "Of course!" he said.
    Of course.