My four year old, who trusts me to love him unconditionally, pulled on my sleeve yesterday morning. From the corner of my eye I had just seen him, donned in sheriff’s badge and rubber band gun, staring at an orange sign. He pulled me down to his height and whispered, “Mama, I want to marry a boy.” I said “You can marry whomever you love.” He responded, “uffda.” If you aren’t from around here or Scandinavia, “uffda” is not so much a word as an exhalation. It is also a call to feel someone’s pain, suffering, fear, or relief. The closest expression to “uffda” I can recall I learned from my students in the 90’s; “you feel me?” The only appropriate response from a loving mom to her son’s “uffda” is, “I feel ya, baby. I feel you.” Someday he may want to marry a Jenny or a Jake, but what I felt from him yesterday was a natural desire to be free to follow his heart.
Today, I rest assured that 51% of Minnesotans voted in favor of freedom and we celebrate that Minnesota was the first state in the U.S. to defeat a Marriage Amendment. I am proud we will continue our evolution toward legalization of marriage for all. I am thrilled we chose to protect our Constitution from being used to restrict rights. But I will admit, I am also sad about the 49% who voted in favor of the amendment. I believe we will someday look back and see that voting “yes,” was a vote for separate but equal. I know it’s important to understand the views that oppose mine. I live by the philosophy of honoring differences in points of view, culture and religion. But I can’t get to the other side of this issue without seeing discrimination. I will not accept that asking our government to define marriage exclusively as one man and one woman is practicing the “freedom” of religion. In truth, it is the imposition of religion upon state law. Religion cannot be used to write law nor justify segregation. I believe it is possible to calmly and warmly say to marriage amendment proponents, “I think you are making a mistake.” My hope is that by the time my son is falling in love, the 49% of Minnesotans who voted “yes” will have new views on love and freedom. I would like to have a conversation with my son someday where his brow furrows, he recalls our orange sign, and he asks me, “Was equal rights to marriage really debatable? Uffda.” And I will say, “I feel ya, baby. I feel you.”