In 2006, I had the opportunity to get involved with fighting for marriage equality in Wisconsin. I volunteered with the organizing group Fair Wisconsin and canvassed, made phone calls and encouraged friends and family to get out the vote. We had high hopes for Wisconsin due to the progressive nature of voters in the state and all of the work that the grassroots organization Fair Wisconsin did to help educate voters.
However, come election night, all of the time, money and effort that went into defeating the amendment became moot. The amendment passed with a double-digit lead over NO voters. And I was broken hearted. I captured my feelings in a blog post a week after the election and included a snippet below:
Well, it’s been almost a week since Wisconsin voted in favor of the civil unions and marriage amendment. I figured it was time to take a few minutes to share my thoughts and feelings with you… I don’t expect this to be a long post, rather, I just wanted to get out some of the thoughts that I have floating about my head.
…most of the night Tuesday was spent in my hotel room watching CNN and on dial-up to CNN.com watching the results come in. Very early it was decided that the amendment would pass, however, I stayed up to watch precinct by precinct come in. Yes, it was a forgone conclusion, we lost. And not by the 3-4% points that were predicted in the polls, nope. This amendment passed with nearly a 20% lead over the No voters.
Hmmm. That result triggered many reactions from anger and frustration to sadness to resentment to being Ok. I was mad that voters would do such a thing. I was mad that more friends and members of the gay/lesbian community didn’t get out and be vocal. I was mad at all of the people who told me “I’m voting yes” as I was out canvassing. And I was mad at Fair Wisconsin for giving me hope, creating, what I felt, to be a false sense of confidence.
Of course, as the anger subsided, sadness was waiting around the bend. All of the efforts, the time, the money, the knocking, the lit-drops, the letters… For what? … It was very disheartening to know that this thing passed in double-digit numbers.
I was done. I was done with politics and I was done fighting for the cause. The defeat of equality in Wisconsin took its toll on me and I gave up the fight.
Fast forward six years. A new job and a new address for me and a new fight on our doorsteps in Minnesota. At first, I hoped that we wouldn’t be faced with this fight. Again, I heard a similar message, “Oh, Minnesota is too progressive to let something like this happen.”
But now, here we are. In November, Minnesota voters will decide whether the definition of marriage will be updated in the State Constitution. 31 states have faced a vote on this measure and 31 states have amended their constitution. What makes any of us think Minnesota will be any different?
Well, I’ll tell you why. First, look around. The United States as we know it is changing. We elected our first African American President. The Melting Pot that is America is becoming more diverse every day. Gay stereotypes are being replaced by leading actors and actresses, friends and families, coworkers and employees telling their own true stories. Bullying is an epidemic that our country is standing up to fight. And marriage equality is on the rise; in March, Maryland became the eighth state in the nation to recognize same-sex marriage.
The tide isn’t turning, it’s turned.
But make no mistake. Minnesotan’s have the fight of their lives ahead of them. Anti-gay groups and certain religious organizations have already begun to pour money into the state, and they’re not about to play fair. They’ll do it under the guise of “protecting marriage” or “supporting children” or some other line; but the reality is, marriage is already defined in the state of Minnesota as between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage is already prohibited in the state. This amendment does not change or “protect” anything. Instead, it rehashes an old debate and it would write inequality into our state constitution.
Minnesota, that’s why I’m involved. And I’m going to give it my all. Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and religious friends, I hope you will stand with me in this fight. With your support, we can defeat this measure and ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
Let’s make sure we send a strong message this November. It’s time.