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Randi Reitan Headshot

Love Is Precious, and It Belongs to Everyone

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2012-08-16-IMG_9861.JPGThese five little ones love their Uncle Jake. They give me the gift of hope every time our family gathers and they run up to him with hugs and smiles. Jacob is neither gay nor straight in their eyes. Jacob is simply their uncle who dearly loves them.

They are growing up in a world moving at a quickened pace toward a day of understanding and equality. It is a world where the freedom to marry the person you love is becoming more and more the reality. I am grateful for that truth, as my state of Minnesota has a constitutional amendment on our ballot that would forever deny many loving couples the right to marry. I want Minnesota to be a part of a new reality. I don't want Minnesota to take a step back in history before we, as a state, realize the truth that all people want and need love.

It is very personal for me. The shameful amendment would forever deny marriage for our youngest son, Jacob. Philip and I have been married for 40 years. We know what a blessing our marriage has been as a firm foundation for our family. We want that same foundation for all four of our children as they go through life.

In these last few years, we have rejoiced as our three oldest children have found love and married wonderful people. It has given us such joy to see our sons Ben and Josh, and our daughter Britta, begin their own families with promises made on their wedding days. We want that same opportunity for Jacob when he finds the man he dearly loves and wants by his side all his life. Jacob wants the support of his family and friends, as well as the societal recognition that comes with marriage.

This photo sits on my kitchen counter to keep hope alive in my heart each day. It reminds me that this is the future, and that the shameful amendment we face is one of the last campaigns to deny loving couples the freedom to marry.

Minnesota will defeat this amendment, and it will be a turning point for same-sex couples across our nation who want marriage as the foundation for their own families.

We would do well to live more like these little ones, whose love is fearless and comes right from their hearts. Their days are centered on joy and happiness. If love, joy, and happiness for others were the center of our own lives, we wouldn't be in the midst of a battle to change our constitution into a document that denies rights instead of preserving it as one that protects and upholds them.

A friend sent me an email the other day with a quotation from a book she was reading. She told me that it made her think of marriage equality and Minnesota at this time. It is from the speech Wangari Maathai's gave upon winning the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize: "In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now."

May we all shed our fear and give hope to one another. May we love as children do, without the filters of prejudice. May we see one another simply as human beings who deserve the same opportunity to love and be loved. May Minnesota lead the way in stopping these shameful campaigns to alter constitutions with amendments that deny marriage to loving couples. Love is precious, and it belongs to everyone.