November 4, 2012

Everybody counts. Everybody matters.

Like many young Americans, 2008 was the first time I voted. It was an exciting time. I remember driving home and seeing people in my neighborhood out in the streets, celebrating and holding up homemade signs and posters. And believe it or not, I am more passionate about my vote in 2012 than I was 4 years ago. I firmly believe in this administration, in their ability and capacity to continue the path of progress they started. But I am even more passionate about another item on my ballot- voting NO on the proposed marriage amendment to our constitution. 

For those of you outside Minnesota, we will vote on whether or not to add an amendment to our state constitution defining marriage as solely being between one man and one woman. 31 other states have already passed similar amendments through their own voting booths; if we defeat our version we will be the first state to do so. There's been a lot of debate, activism, and of course TV commercials on both sides. Many of our elected officials- governor, senators, congressmen- oppose it, and a surprising voice for the Vote No movement emerged in Chris Kluwe, the punter for the MN Vikings. He's wicked smart and has written several op-eds on the issue (he has had a blog on one of our newspaper's websites). His last post lays out the practical reasons why anyone, regardless of how they feel about gay marriage, should vote no on Tuesday. Go read the whole thing, but here are his 4 bullet points:

1. It's an intrusion of government into personal life.
2. It's an attempt to sidestep our political process.
3. Voting yes on this amendment does not protect your right to vote. 
4. Voting no on the amendment won't change a single thing legally in this state.

So, those are the facts that resonate with me. this is how i feel.

My mom is white, and my stepdad is black. (not the folks above, but equally adorable) Once upon a time, it would have been illegal for them to get married. In fact, their state's constitutional ban on interracial marriage wasn't removed until 1998, a scant 2 years before they got married. 

My husband was married once before. He got divorced and then later, got remarried to me. Some individuals believe this is a sin and our marriage is not valid. Now, our marriage has never been endangered, and we have never experienced discrimination based on these particular religious convictions. But still, there are people who believe that my marriage and/or my parents' marriage are wrong. And you better believe that gives me loads of compassion towards those who currently don't have the right to marry.

I have friends & co-workers who are gay. And almost all of them are in long-term, loving, monogamous relationships. They buy houses, pay taxes, have pets and children, work hard at their jobs, take care of their parents. They are exactly like me & Matt, except they have less civil rights than we do.

Here's the deal. It's easy to vote for discrimination when you have never been discriminated against. It's easy to blur the lines of religion and government when you don't know anyone whose lives would be affected by imposing your beliefs on the entire population. I know this personally- when I was younger and more sheltered, I held some beliefs based on what i thought were moral reasons, not having a clue how they affect real people. But I grew up, moved around the country, and met people who are different than me. Wonderful people who deserve the same rights that most of us take for granted. 

I understand this is a complicated issue with many factors motivating people's decisions, and I totally respect that. This is just my humble explanation of what's motivating me... I believe in the separation of church & state, and I believe in equal rights for everyone. That is why I am voting no.

(today's post title comes courtesy of Rep. Keith Ellison, my congressman and a strong voice against the amendment.)


anna said...

106I am so very proud of you

ashley rebekah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ashley rebekah said...

love this... and i too appreciate the connection between your own marriage/being discrimiated against and how it applies across the board to every person.

i'm in for the 'no' vote.