After reading descriptions of all the horrific things that people say on the phone that I posted in my last blog, folks may wonder why it's worth trying to have phone calls or conversations with people they know who are against marriage equalilty.
In fact, with some people, I'm not sure it's worth it. But I've been awed by all the changes of heart that are taking place; I've witnessed it happen in conversations I've had, and my fellow activists have witnessed it in their own conversations. There is a level consciousness raising afoot that I haven't seen since the 1970s and the feminist movement!
Here are three such conversations I've heard about just this week:
- My friend Jo told me that she and her three teenage daughters have been working on her mom, an elderly suburban Catholic woman, for months. They tried every angle they could think of, but no argument could trump her mom's need to obey the Catholic hierarchy. Finally, Jo told me, with a sense of surprise, that these words from her oldest daughter turned the tide: "Grandma," the young adult said, "marriage for same-sex couples is still going to be illegal in Minnesota even if this amendment doesn't pass. It is very likely going to be illegal until you die. Why mess up things for my generation as you leave this planet? Why don't you leave things alone and let us, the ones who will live with this, decide for ourselves?" With that, Jo's mom agreed to vote "no."
- This one comes from my 16-year-old kid, from a random phone bank of calls. It's written in her own words, part of a reflection paper she writes for school:
[T]he second lady I had a conversation with said she was voting "yes," but that she didn't care what people did with their personal matters. I asked her if she was married, and she said she was. I asked her why she got married, and she said, "Well, why did we get married? We were very young. He had just turned 21, and I was 22. We were right out of school. We were in love!" She has been married 54 years. I laughed, and she asked me why I was laughing. I told her it sounded like a fairy tale. She laughed as well, and I told her about why marriage is important in my family and to me. We talked about me, and at the end she asked what the amendment was about. I told her that if she supported marriage for gay and lesbian couples, she should vote "no." Her answer was, "Oh, so I should vote 'no,' then. OK, I will. Nice talking to you, kid. Have a nice life." It was a really nice conversation.
- Finally, this one was reported to me by someone who was phone banking with me. On Tuesday nights I train people to have conversations with people they know. On Wednesday nights I call people who have been to such trainings, to chat about how their conversations are going. My friend Pam told this story: She called a woman who told Pam that she'd been talking about the amendment to her mom in a small town in northern Minnesota, without any luck. Finally, the woman decided to get in her car and drive four hours north to have a face-to-face conversation. When she got there, she and her mother went round and round about the amendment. Finally the daughter said, in exasperation, "Mom, you had a hard life yourself. Why on Earth would you want to do something that will just make other people's lives even harder?" The mother stopped arguing, sat back, said, "You're right. Why would I?" and agreed not only to vote "no" but to put up a yard sign. The next day the mother called her daughter and said she had talked to her neighbors across the street about the amendment, and they had also agreed to vote "no." She was wondering where they might get another yard sign!
This is what's happening all across the state: changes of heart and mind that, wether we win or lose this Election Day, will bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice and ensure that, someday, marriage will be an option for all committed couples.
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