When the Minnesota legislature voted to put a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage up for a popular vote this fall, I was 56 years old and had lived in the state for more than half my life. I had met my wife in this state, raised my children in this state, fished in this state, played softball in this state, voted in this state, and likely will be buried in this state.
Most people around the country who hear Minnesota probably picture an icy tundra, white people, bad sports teams, Garrison Keillor, and, if they're old enough, Norman Borlaug, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, my old Paul Wellstone, and the artist formerly known as Bob Zimmerman from the Iron Range.
If they're young enough they think of former governor Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann. She's the right-wing member of Congress whose district is to the immediate north of mine. My representative is Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress, an African American who represents largely white Minneapolis and a few inner-ring suburbs. He ran for Congress as a peace candidate and has kept his seat by being a voice for economic and social justice. My senator is Al Franken. He used to write jokes on Saturday Night Live, and now he's quietly going about his business as an effective champion of everyday Minnesotans.
Last May, more Minnesota legislators were like Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty than like Keith Ellison and Al Franken. There's modern-day Minnesota for you, and there's how this marriage amendment ended up on the 2012 ballot.
I started writing a year-long daily blog in November about the marriage amendment not because I am gay, which I'm not, and not because I'm big into politics, which I'm not.
I started 365 Pretty Good Reasons because my Cousin Ellen was all but disowned by her mother when she came out and couldn't marry her sweetheart Lori. That's a long story, and you can read about it here. I also resent the way the religious right in this state has intruded on public policy, and you can read about that here, here, and here. I'm also appalled by the permanence of a constitutional amendment, as are quite a few smart traditional conservatives in Minnesota, too.
I may be a liberal, but I am a family values guy. My family and I are lucky to belong to a Minneapolis synagogue that embodies inclusivity. Our last four rabbis have been gays and lesbians. Gay or lesbian families make up maybe a third of our congregation. So what, and who cares? We learned a few weekends ago, when 800 Reform and Conservative Jews gathered in support of gay marriage, that a lot of pretty good Minnesotans and their rabbis are determined to vote against this amendment. A few dozen Catholics have been protesting the archbishop for supporting the amendment, and lots of Protestants are opposed, as well.
That sort of explains the blog. I'd never blogged before, but as a former newspaper guy and a college composition instructor the last 25 years, I figured what I could do, starting last November 6, was post one reason a day to oppose the amendment.
So I've written about anti-miscegenation laws and Jackie Robinson and JFK's run for president and the hypocrisy of folks like Newt Gingrich. And I've run quite a few guest posts with stories from the heartland showing how real people want to be able to love each other the same as anyone else and get the benefits of marriage that straight people take for granted.
The one thing I wanted to do from the start was keep my blog rant-free, and I created a logo to represent that. From the start I've tried to be civil and accurate and personal and respectful. I also try to keep it light. I got a couple thousand views of a pretty good Xtranormal video my son and I put together on YouTube. I've managed to include a pretty good matzah ball soup recipe in opposition to the marriage amendment. At our party caucus I tried to get folks to approve a constitutional amendment requiring all hot dogs sold in the state to be kosher, but that didn't get anywhere. We Minnesotans are a serious people.
Voters in 29 states have approved ballot initiatives like this one. Minnesota is a crazy place, somewhere at last we can just say no to fear and hate.
An umbrella organization called Minnesotans United for All Families has done a fantastic job organizing the opposition to the amendment. They're keeping it civil and personal and respectful, too. Right now about 41 percent of Minnesotans hope we become the first state to successfully oppose something like this.
That means we need to change the hearts and minds of another 10 percent of the population. It's March, and I have eight more months of pretty good reasons to go.
I hope Huffington Post readers will see the chance. We Minnesotans just need some pretty good stories and reasons to change the minds of another 10 percent of the opposition.
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