A Precious Thing

I was hesitant to make a specific post about this because I already did one on the election in general and I felt really good about that and even got an extremely awesome comment (thanks Elizabeth!) but I just feel compelled to do it. And besides they always say to write what you know and if I know anything, I know my passion for this topic. So obviously this is targeted to citizens of Minnesota who are of voting age and going out to the polls in less than 24 hours, which I hope is everyone because really guys if you are wasting your voice and opportunity to vote I am seriously disappointed in you, but I like to think anyone could benefit from the following.

Tomorrow on your ballot you will see a question asking “Amendment 1: Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman. Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid as a marriage in Minnesota?”. I am not telling you, but rather encouraging you to vote no on this amendment. Heck I’ll even call it begging and pleading if that works for you to listen to a few reasons why I know you should do so.

I’ve seen the ads from those in the “vote yes” camp and truly they baffle me. A direct quote from a pamphlet I received from them in the mail said, “Marriage is not about what adults want, but what kids need.” Not only is this statement false it is also assuming and judgmental.  Not all couples who marry intend on having kids, or unfortunately find out they can’t biologically have kids, so does that mean their marriage’s are null because they don’t have kids to serve their marriage too? Let alone I’ve been raised to understand that marriage is the ultimate showcase of commitment to the person you love, it’s about the people in the relationship and their love. Now I personally am still iffy on the whole marriage thing for myself (putting aside the fact I have said I won’t get married until it is legal for everyone) but I know that it is always there for me if I find that man and decide I want to make that dedication.

Another argument the opposing side has is that if this amendment doesn’t pass schools will be allowed to teach kids that same-sex marriage is okay and acceptable and that parents will have no say in the matter. I don’t have a factual or studied response to that so I’ll just say good. Children should be taught to be loving and accepting of all people, why parents would be upset that their kids are learning to be compassionate human beings I will never understand. Let alone some of these responsibilities they want to lay on lawmakers, teachers, and activists are actually under the realm of parenting. If they are afraid these people can teach basic fundamentals to their kids better than they can maybe they should step back and take a look at their priorities.

Surprisingly an area I’ve heard addressed very rarely in all of this is religion. And for that very reason I am also not going to speak at length to that “argument” because, while I can defend the religious comments to the issue, I am not here to attack anyone’s religious beliefs. I respect everyone’s right to religious freedom and wouldn’t dream of cutting down someone’s ability to have such strong faith, frankly I am glad it has not come to that level of attack and false accusations.

But back to my plea for a ‘Vote No’ from you tomorrow. We as a state should vote no mostly because it is incredibly distasteful to think we are deserving of the ability to limit freedom but also because if we put this kind of hate in our constitution it is so difficult to rectify. By putting such a definite law in our constitution we are saying that we are a state incapable of accepting everyone and their rights. I am not okay with that. I have so much pride in the fact that I am from Minnesota and I don’t want to have to call a state home when it and a majority of its citizens believe that gay and lesbians are second class or lesser citizens than heterosexuals.

All our fellow citizens are requesting is to be privy to the same right we have in the ability to legally profess and commit love to one another. I hate that anyone is asking for something that should be rightfully theirs; they are contributing people same as anyone else in this state (and country) so why should they need the whole of our state to weigh in on their right to marriage when they don’t get asked to do the same for us? Are people even aware of what excluding them from this means beyond the show of love and care for another person? There are over 1,100 rights that married couples are privy to that unmarried or civil union couples are not, which include rights to see a sick partner or child in the hospital, leaving property and children to spouses in the event of a death, even tax breaks. These are things that no couple should be denied because they happen to love someone of their own sex or because a majority of a society sees it as “abnormal” or “not right”. I don’t get what makes me or any other heterosexual so much different (i.e. better) that we are just gifted those privileges because our hearts speed up more for the opposite sex.

I know it’s an old and possibly tired argument but wouldn’t you be absolutely enraged if you found the person that completes you, that you love with all your heart and couldn’t imagine spending anything less than forever with only to be told, “No you can’t marry that person.”? You would be gutted and positively angry, so why would you choose to fill another person with that same hurt? As a human race we have an alliance to one another to be supporting and kind and and amendment like this goes against that with all its might.

Have we learned nothing from ‘Moulin Rouge’? As Ewan McGregor tells us, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” Love is this great conquest we all set out to find in life and when we do it is natural to want to shout that on mountain tops, or TVs, or in simple services were we bind ourselves to another person for life (or as long as the relationship is healthy and filled with that feeling cause I am not advocating for the whole ‘you only marry once so make it work because divorce is out of the question’ thing). It’s not natural however to want to limit that feeling of joy and happiness from others.

In fact it is mind-blowing to me how this is still something up for debate in the year 2012. We have defied the idea of class-ism with people of high “standing” marrying someone of a lower “standing”, we have moved on from outlawing inter-racial marriage (granted that was only in 1967, really America?), so why are we hung up on people of the same-sex/gender marring each other? These things are just details that make up the people but don’t define them by any means, especially not any that qualify them to be loving individuals who want to dedicate themselves to life with another. We can’t help who we love, and we shouldn’t have to.

So again I urge, beg, plead, am attempting to persuade, but not telling, you to Vote No tomorrow on amendment one. I can’t tell you exactly why, but I’ve been passionate about equal rights for over half my life and have been so happy to see how we as a country and society have moved forward in the area and it breaks my heart to think that a massive step backwards could be made on Tuesday, in my home state of all places. This state was where I was raised to believe that I am no better than the person walking next to me and to be accepting of all people, I don’t want it turning into a state that says to LGBT individuals, “You are not welcome to the same rights. You don’t get to declare your love like us. You are less than.” That isn’t the Minnesota I love to lay claim too.

You hold a precious thing in your hands tomorrow when you step into that voting booth, think of the example you will set based on your vote because it will have consequences. Please, please, understand that and consider being a person who doesn’t judge or limit people of their freedom to marry the person they love.

Happy Voting!

p.s. I’d also urge you to vote no to the voter I.D. amendment since it is more of, even if a little different, finding ways to limit minorities. I mean who wants to  discourage or make it more difficult for people to vote when our turnout is not anywhere near where it should be as a country?

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