Last week, Minnesota was a real study in contrasts.
First there were the folks with heart problems, like Minnesota State Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover), who said that her "heart breaks for Minnesota" because the state House of Representatives had approved a gay marriage bill. She was joined by Julie Burt, another opponent of gay marriage, who stated, "[T]he world has turned to a place that wants immediate gratification. And it breaks my heart. Breaks my heart for my children and my grandchildren." These women might want to make appointments to see their doctors for some Lipitor or an aspirin regimen.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was State Rep. Steven Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park), who gave a speech in which he shared a lesson he learned from a rabbi: "The moment when night ends and a new day begins is the moment when you look into the face of a stranger and see the face of your brother." Fighting back tears, Simon appeared to realize the historical importance of the House's actions and how those actions were leading Minnesota out of darkness into a new day.
Can you imagine the conversation if these people met each other in the cafeteria?
Scott: "Hey, buddy, nice speech there."
Simon: "Um, thanks."
Scott: "I was being sarcastic."
Simon: "Yeah, I got that."
Burt, bursting in: "My heart breaks! It breaks, I tell you!"
Simon: "I am sorry for you."
Burt: "People like you are ruining the world for my children and grandchildren!"
Simon: "People like you are ruining my lunch."
Burt: "You and your little rabbi friend want immediate gratification!"
Simon: "Yeah, OK. I'm outta here."
Of course, that is speculation. I do not know what these people are like in reality. I am watching from the sidelines, all the way in Pennsylvania. It is as if I am watching football on TV. I am rooting for my team. And my team is doing great this season! We keep winning! In the past few games we scored big victories in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota! Woo-hoo! Go, team!
But I am just a fan, not a player. I am thrilled for my team, but I am not in the action. At the end of the day, I am still the same, unmarried person. My partner and I are nowhere near getting to play in the game ourselves.
I watch all this from the sidelines and can only commentate. I do not understand people like Burt who think that gay marriage is "instant gratification." I have been in a relationship for 18 years. I am sure that there are Minnesotan couples who have been waiting longer than that to legalize their relationships. I would characterize their impending nuptials as an end to prolonged inequality, not instant gratification. And how exactly would same-sex marriage ruin the lives of Julie Burt's children and grandchildren? If any of her kids or grandkids is gay, she is the one ruining their lives. Growing up with an intolerant mother or grandmother is more ruinous than a marriage equality bill.
Maybe I am bitter, sitting here on the bench.
I look at the map of the United States, changing weekly. Pennsylvania is becoming an island. States above and below and to the east of us are all changing colors for marriage equality. Nearly one quarter of all U.S. states now allow same-sex marriage. Soon it will be a third, then half. How long is this going to take? When will Pennsylvania be in the mix? From this vantage point, it seems like it could be an eternity.
The Supreme Court could change the game completely when they reach their verdicts on the marriage equality cases that they are currently considering. But it seems unlikely that they will make a sweeping decision that affects every state. So I guess I will continue to wait.
But c'mon, put me in, coach. I'm ready to play. Today.