Posts Tagged ‘GLBT rights’

The Relationship Vote

May 19, 2011
This piece was originally published in the Grand Rapids Herald-Review
I’ve always thought that our constitution was supposed to enshrine our rights as citizens of this state and this country. So when I heard that the Minnesota Legislature was attempting to pass a bill that would put marriage rights of gay and lesbian couples up to a vote during the 2012 election, effectively making a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, I thought that was pretty strange. More specifically, I thought it was outrageous!

First of all, and I see this as something that is very difficult to argue with, it is an incredible waste of time. As it currently stands, same-sex marriage is not legal in the state of Minnesota. The legislative session ends before Memorial Day weekend, and there is still a $5 billion deficit that needs dealing with, but instead the Senate and House are wasting their time debating and having public hearings on whether or not something that is currently illegal should be REALLY illegal.

What’s more unfortunate is that, regardless of the precedent of 28 other states passing similar constitutional amendments, our governing bodies would actively pursue the wanton discrimination of a large percentage of the population of the state, not to mention a member of the State Senate itself.

During the Senate hearing on the bill, Senator Scott Dibble held up a picture of he and his husband on the floor of the Senate on the first day of session, and he asked “What’s so different about us? What’s so dangerous about us?”

Same-sex marriage is allowed in five states in this country. So the question has to be; how has this negatively impacted states such as Massachusetts and Iowa?

But above I disregarded the 28 states that have passed similar amendments, so let’s just never mind what other states are doing. With that in mind, I would ask; how will this bill help Minnesota families?

Will it help create jobs? Will it balance the budget? Will it curb bullying in schools? The answer to those first two questions is ‘no’. There is no data that suggests that making something that’s already against the law against the law forever will have any sort of change on matters it didn’t affect anyway. But how about bullying? Anyone who isn’t aware of the high number of gay and lesbian teens who have committed suicide because of the negative ways they’ve been treated simply because they are gay (and others who were simply perceived to be gay), is either in denial or has been hiding under a rock. So honestly, what do you think this amendment is going to say to the next generation?

Senator Warren Limmer, the author of this bill, has said that the people of Minnesota have a right to vote on this issue, and that with a year and a half between now and the election, they will have the opportunity to have a conversation about it. I personally think Senator Dibble responded to this best, so I’ll just quote him:

“We’re not going to have a conversation. We’re going to have an ugly, angry, divisive campaign… And you know what that campaign is going to look like? It’s going to be about creating disinformation, about half-truths and mis-truths, and complete outright lies about what my family is all about… It’s going to create conjecture, fear, and will divide Minnesotans during this critical time in our economy when we need to be pulling people together.”

The proponents of this bill are quick to say that the people have a right to vote on their definition of marriage. First of all, I call bologna on that. There’s no choice here. The percentage of Minnesotans who think that marriage should be inclusive to all consenting adults have no box to check. The options are simply the status quo or the status quo forever. And that is beside the point that this argument is discrimination disguised as liberty. Limmer and the other proponents of this bill talk about the rights of the people to decide, but they’re deciding on the rights of others. So what about the rights of those whose personal lives are infringed with this vote? If this isn’t making sense, imagine if your marriage or your relationship with your significant other was put up to a vote by those who don’t even know you?

Our country has a history of bigotry against various types of couples, whether they be Lutherans and Catholics marrying, or whites and blacks marrying. It wasn’t that long ago that it was illegal for a black man to marry a white woman in a large number of states in this country. And people were just as adamant about that concept as they are today about same-sex marriage. So what has changed? We’ve simply picked a new group to look down upon; a new group on which to attempt to deny rights.

The argument for same-sex marriage isn’t anything new or bizarre. It is simply asking that consenting adults, who would be allowed to marry someone of the opposite sex, be allowed to marry someone of the same sex, because they found a special person that they want to spend the rest of their lives with. No one is looking for extra rights. Just the same rights as anyone else who found that person who completes them, who will stick with them through good times and bad.

As of this writing, the House has yet to vote on the bill. By all speculations, it seems as if it is going to pass. I hope it doesn’t. I think it would be a shameful mark on the state’s history; a state that has a long history of compassion and inclusiveness. And the ensuing “conversation” will only create more hate and discrimination, because our government has decided that this particular group of Minnesotans aren’t deserving of equality.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

February 22, 2010

Isn’t it an exciting time to be alive in this country? By this I mean, whether you like it or not, things are changing…

We’ve got national healthcare in our collective consciousness, with heated debates on the manner of its reform, or if it even needs it.

We’ve got GLBT rights activists up front protesting for marriage equality, and with that some very confusing mixed-messages all the way from the President himself on when said rights will be enacted.

We elected the first African-American President.

We’re fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we were originally led to believe that they were one in the same.

There’s climate change, and even though the debate as to whether or not its real has pretty much been wrapped up, a unified solution to this world-wide problem has everyone torn on just what type of sacrifices need to be made.

And to top it all off, we’re experiencing an economic recession that was a baby’s breath away from being a depression, and still could go that way if we’re not careful.

Whew!

All my life, I’ve heard about the type of revolutions that were happening in the ‘60s, how nothing was the same after that. There are endless documentaries on everything cultural that took place; Women’s Lib, Woodstock, the Civil Rights Act, the moon landing. But cultural progression isn’t something that lays stagnant for a generation or two only to launch forward on a given decade; it truly is simply ongoing. But every now and then, we reach a place in history where we find ourselves springing forward, for better or for worse, and afterward we look back in amazement of the times.

I believe we’re living one of those moments right now. And I bet I’m not alone. The real question is then: What comes next? Are things starting to simmer down, or are they just heating up?

I think about the people who experienced the ‘60s sometimes, those who remember where they were when JFK was shot, what they were doing when the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution took place which made our war with Vietnam official. And I wonder what their mindset was on these events? What was their position on theses momentous issues? What their involvement was in shaping that time?

So with that in mind, when we find ourselves, many years from now, looking back at the end of the first decade of the 21st century in the form of a PBS documentary, how exactly will we feel about our contributions when we say to ourselves, “Hey, I was there.”? I personally look forward to regaling grandchildren with my exploits someday. And I look forward to them being proud of me for my role in the times.

It would be presumptuous of me to assume that all my ideas and ideals will be shone upon positively by all in the annals of future history. But being opposed to wars that are documented to have been started for the wrong reasons, and being for the rights of an oppressed segment of the population, I feel fairly confident that I’ll have no need to be embarrassed. If looking back at the ’60s can teach us anything, I believe those are two lessons to not take for granted. So the question is: What do you think your future will hold about the current times?