Last night I was watching Sandy and her path of destruction on the evening news. Amid shots of houses spinning like tops down the yards that once held them tight, an ad came on TV promoting the Marriage Protection Amendment. A couple from Massachusetts, just north of Sandy’s strike zone, warned, “don’t make the same mistake and think gay marriage won’t affect you.” The dismaying “affect” of which they spoke was that kids might be taught in public schools that some families have two moms or two dads. In response, first and foremost, children in schools across the U.S. are expected to show respect for each other and their differences, regardless of their religion, culture or opinions. Second, kids across Minnesota are already being taught in public schools about the vast variability in family structure. Third, kids attend schools that have gay students, gay parents, and gay employees and the federal government will not allow states to remove them, or quiet them, or segregate them, regardless of how we vote on this amendment.
I was astonished by their plea, but I didn’t wish a storm upon their house. Their lifestyle and their opinions were shameful to me, but I didn’t want to see their family go down in the storm. The proponents of this amendment, however, are mounting the wind and waves that will wound the homes of happy, high-functioning families. They are the genesis of a storm that is draining our state of thousands of dollars that could be allocated toward nobler pursuits. They are asking us to use our State Constitution to take rights away from our residents. They are sending the message to thousands of kids that their parents’ love for each other is less valuable than other unions. They are creating insecurity in the lives of kids whose parents have already faced bigotry, ridicule and judgment. Suggesting that same-sex marriage will affect us if we note “no” is like saying Sandy affected me because I had to watch the devastation on TV. Its absolutely insignificant compared to being hit by a storm. Bottom-line, this amendment demands that the proponents beliefs affect the rest of us, regardless of what WE believe. I want to protect my marriage too. I want to protect it from fear, from cruelty and from exclusion. Why do we have to keep learning over and over again in this country that it takes more energy to exclude people than it does to include them?