Equality

IMG_6311 The dome of the Minnesota State Capitol. Photo by ckschleg.

Almost exactly six months after the election in which Minnesotans decided they didn’t want their state constitution to ban the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, their elected representatives provided that very recognition.

Last Thursday the state House passed a bill allowing the state to recognize same-sex couples in all the same ways it recognizes straight couples; today the Senate passed it, too; and tomorrow Governor Dayton will sign it into law. It’s almost exactly two years since another bunch of state legislators passed bills to amend the state constitution with a ban on same-sex marriage—which makes this some kind of record turn-around.

Of course, that turnaround happened because those two years contained an uprecedented campaign against the amendment by Minnesotans United for All Families leading up to a huge get-out-the-vote effort on election day that, incidentally, also saw the Democratic Farm Labor party take control of both houses of the state legislature. Almost immediately after the election, MNUnited moved to take advantage of the new, friendlier state government, re-tooling into a lobbying effort for the legislative measures that just passed.

I wasn’t anywhere near as closely involved in that new effort as I was in the campaign against the amendment—I made a couple donations, but otherwise stayed home and kept an eye on the news. This time round the action was in lobbying legislators, and I’d already helped get the out the votes to win DFL control of the legislature, and both my state rep and my state senator were co-sponsors on the House and Senate versions of the bill. Once again, a bunch of distant strangers were voting on the fullness of my citizenship—only this time the group of strangers was smaller, we already knew how most of them would vote, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of use calling up representatives and senators on whom I had no electoral claim. But the folks who did the work behind the scenes—and the folks who did call legislators and show up to rallies at the state capitol and generally keep up the pressure once the bills had been introduced into committee—made it happen.

This is far from the end of the struggle to achieve full equality before the law for all queer Americans—notably, there are 38 other states and at least one big Supreme Court decision to go, just on the single issue of civil marriage.

But it’s a mighty big step for the state of Minnesota—and it feels like we might just be riding the historical moment of inflection for the rest of the nation.

Edited to add: here, via the Minnesota Public Radio YouTube channel (with hat-tip to Joe My God), is what things looked like in the Capitol rotunda after the Senate’s vote today:

Because, duh.

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Blowout

Big Gay Race-DSC_6042- 9.29.12 The crowd at the Big Gay Race, in support of Minnesotans United for All Families. Photo by Joe Bielawa.

Last night’s election was a nationwide blowout for gay rights. Maine and Maryland passed ballot initiatives legalizing same-sex marriage, and although Washington’s mail-in balloting slows down the vote-counting, it looks like that state passed marriage equality, too. And here in Minnesota, we soundly rejected the proposal to put a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution — the final vote looks to be about 51% against the amendment.

Edited to add: Here’s video of Minnesotans United Campaign Manager Richard Carlbom learning the resut at almost the last minute before the campaign’s election night party had to call it a night — 1:45 a.m.

I didn’t find out about the Minnesota result until I woke up this morning — it was close, and the friends who came by to watch returns had already headed home before President Obama finally gave his acceptance speech, and I’d spent most of Election Day helping Minnesotans United get out the vote in the student-heavy neighborhoods around the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. Canvassing proved to be way better than spending the day refreshing political blogs and not getting anything else done. Walking around campus towards the end of the workday, I saw MNU’s bright orange “I voted NO” stickers everywhere.

From the very beginning, I’ve been impressed about how truly broad the opposition to the amendment was, and how many straight people were willing to put in time and money to secure (or, at least, work towards securing) basic rights for their GLBT friends, neighbors, and family members. In the early days of phone-banking, the straights outnumbered the gays on the phones by a pretty wide margin, and straight supporters flooded the streets for the Big Gay Race and pitched in to raise millions of dollars for the campaign. I’ll second Dan Savage and say, we couldn’t have done it without them.

And let’s not forget the support of the excellent and generous readers of this very site — thanks, yet again, for helping defeat the amendment.

This is really only a first step for Minnesota — even without a consitutional amendment, there’s still a law on the books banning same-sex couples from marriage. But it’s hard to deny that change is in the air, and there’s a huge base of supporters already organized and excited about taking the next step. We’re fired up. It feels pretty great.◼

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Down to the wire

With less than two days to go before Minnesotans put the right to marriage up for a majority vote, the latest poll — and, I’m guessing, the last one before Election Day — finds a majority of Minnesotan voters opposed to amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Here’s the report directly from Public Policy Polling:

The more interesting findings on our final Minnesota poll deal with the state’s high profile amendments to ban gay marriage and require voter identification. We find both narrowly trailing. 45% of voters say they’ll vote for the gay marriage ban, compared to 52% who are opposed to it. …

The marriage amendment is trailing because of a massive generational divide. Seniors support it by a 57/40 margin but every other age group opposes it, including a 36/62 margin against it among voters under 30. Republicans support it (79%) and Democrats oppose it (76%) in almost equal numbers, but independents tip the balance by opposing it 41/55.

Polling historically overreports support for marriage equality, and by margins more than big enough to wipe out a 52-45 majority. (E.g., California’s Proposition 8.) Still, this is the first time we’ve seen better than 50% opposition to the amendment after a couple months of statistical ties. And that age gap means I made exactly the right choice when I signed up to spend Election Day doing get-out-the-vote work in the neighborhoods adjoining the University of Minnesota.

I’m hopeful, and scared to get too hopeful.◼

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Marathon number five

2012.10.21 - Mankato Marathon 2012 finisher medal They give you a medal just for finishing — which was kind of a feat, in my case. Photo by jby.

So I’m home and more-or-less recovered from marathon number five, the Mankato Marathon. Final time: 3 hours, 33 minutes, and 32 seconds. Which, it happens, is five whole seconds better than my last marathon back in June. At two marathons a year with this kind of improvement, I’ll qualify for Boston some time before my 200th birthday.

I tried to tweet a couple images, but this one was pretty rough going, and I had other things on my mind. Like making it to the finish line. I’m sure Mankato is a lovely town, but there’s not enough of it to contain a whole 26.2-mile course, so most of the first two-thirds of the race were out in the middle of open farmland, with nothing to block a pretty persistent wind. Which wind was good for thermoregulation, but made running perceptibly harder.

Even so, I finished the first 23 miles in under three hours, setting what I’m pretty sure is a personal record for a half-marathon. That was too fast — by the last three miles, I didn’t have anything left. I ended up walking a depressing amount of the home stretch. Just like the last time around, I crossed the finish line to Cake’s cover of “I will survive,” and I felt every word.

Of course, it wasn’t just about the race this time round, and Denim and Tweed readers came through strong at the finish, donating enough to Minnestotans United for All Families to hit my $500 goal before the race even started. You folks rock!

(Of course, it’s still possible to donate if you didn’t get around to it. But this will be the last time I pester you about it here, I swear!)

And but so now I’m looking forward to spending the next three days or so unable to easily climb stairs. Also, trying to decide whether I really want to do a sixth one of these things. (Spoiler: I probably will, once I can climb stairs again.)◼

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Race day tomorrow — last chance to donate!

So, tomorrow’s the Mankato Marathon, which means I’m presently in a cheap hotel room in charming Mankato, Minnesota, winding down for an early bedtime in preparation to run 26.2 miles starting at 8 in the morning. Also, since I’m running to raise money for the campaign against an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage, it’s also the home stretch for donations. D&T readers have already proven to be as generous as they are attractive and discerning, and given $350 so far — thanks! — which leaves just $150 to go to hit my goal. Update: As of 6 a.m. Sunday morning, you’ve hit $500 in donations! Many, many thanks!

So if you’ve already given (some of you, twice!) maybe pass on the donation link via your various social networks?

And if you want to track my progress tomorrow, you can look for bib number 529 on the results page; or keep an eye on my Twitter feed, in case I manage to live-tweet again. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a race playlist to assemble.◼

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Oh, hey. This sounds familiar.

Minnesota’s not the only state putting people’s civil rights up for a majority vote this election. Over on the Slog, Eli Sanders reports on working the phones with the campaign in support of Washington’s initiative R-74, which would make civil marriage available for same-sex couples in that state. (Contrast with Minnesota: here, we’re fighting against a ballot initiative that would put a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution.)

Sanders goes into rather more detail about specific calls than I did, probably because he’s a real journalist. I like this one:

Then, Ronald in Suquamish. I apologized for calling him during the dinner hour.

“Go ahead,” he replied. “I’m old, I like to talk.”

Ronald is 80. He told me that if I promised not to vote for Republicans “who are going to cut my Social Security,” he’d promise to vote to approve R-74.

But this wasn’t really a “persuasion” type of situation. Ronald had already come around to supporting marriage equality on his own. He’d met his first gay people while serving in the Navy, where he worked on submarines. “In fact, I got knocked on my butt by a lesbian in a bar in New York, in my uniform,” he told me. “I asked her girlfriend to dance. She let me have it. Knocked me right on my can.”

This is probably as good a time as any to note that my little fundraising project, in which I’m running the Mankato Marathon (in less than two weeks!) in support of the marriage-equality campaign here in Minnesota, Minnesotans United for All Families, is over halfway to my goal of $500! Thanks yet again to everyone who chipped in — and the rest of you, what’re you waiting for?◼

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5k down, 42 to go

2012.09.29 - Big Gay Racers Big Gay Racers. Photo by jby.

Saturday morning, I ran Big Gay Race with a whole bunch of friends and thousands of other Minnesotans. In spite of an early-season cold, I did the 5k run in 20:08, nine tantalizing seconds from a personal record. (Is Pseudophed a performance-enhancing drug? If so, it’s not performance-enhancing enough.)

The BGR was the first of two events I’m running in support of Minnesotans United for All Families and the fight against the proposed anti-gay-marriage amendment to the state constitution. With a bit more than a month to go before the vote, polling on the amendment is also tantalizingly close, a statistical dead heat at 49% for, 47% against, and 4% undecided.

Meanwhile, I’m just about ready to take something a little bit longer—the Mankato Marathon. I did what will probably be my longest pre-marathon training run—19 miles un-enhanced by cold medicine in beautiful autumn weather—on Sunday, and I do believe I’m ready to survive 26.2 miles (or about 42k) less than three weeks from now.

Denim and Tweed readers have already given $205 to MNUnited, for which I’m mighty grateful. But if you haven’t given yet, please help us make it to $500 with a donation of $5, or $10, or $25—we’re on the home stretch, and every little bit will make a difference.

Donate here.◼

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Still running …

Me, running the Portland Marathon three years ago. Looks fun, right?.

Hey, remember that thing where I’m running a 5k, then a marathon, to raise money for the campaign against an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage?

Well, so far readers have made some very nice contributions—$110, to be exact. Which is great! But I have reason to suspect that a lot of folks still haven’t chipped in. I know, I know. You, my readers, are about evenly divided between impoverished, ramen-subsisting graduate students and the kind of young, hip professionals who just blew their discretionary budget on a new iPhone—but you have five bucks, right? Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign against the amendment, would be happy to have five bucks. It’s not a lot, but it would add up. The average post at D&T scores a couple hundred pageviews; if every page-viewing person kicked in a fiver, we’re talking folding money.

And what will your five bucks will go toward? More phone banks to make our case to each and every Minnesotan we can reach, more canvassing for support, and, as we get closer to the election, TV ads like this brand new one:

Seriously: go chip in five bucks?◼

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Running for marriage equality

Regular readers will be well aware that two of my principle extracurricular activities are running and volunteering on the campaign against an anti-gay-marriage amendment to the Minnesota state constitution. Now, with the election drawing closer, I’m going to combine the two, and run in support of marriage equality.

There is, of course, a long and storied history of homosexuals running for truth, justice, and the (North) American way, as the Kids in the Hall remind us.

This faggot will be running in not one but two events before the election: the 5k Big Gay Race on Saturday, 29 September; and then the Mankato Marathon on Sunday, 21 October. (That’ll be my fifth marathon!) I propose that you, my dozens of readers, commemorate these efforts and help keep bigotry out of Minnesota’s constitution by contributing to Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign against the amendment.

I suggest you donate $5 ($1/kilometer) to sponsor the 5k; or either $26.21 ($1/mile) or $42.19 ($1/kilometer) to sponsor the marathon. I’ll even add an extra inducement: anyone who donates at least $5 and lets me know via e-mail will go into a drawing to recieve a free D&T tee shirt of his or her choice.

Ready? Set? Go donate.◼

Postscript: For meditation on the appropriateness of the use of the word “faggot” in this context, please direct your attention/questions/objections to Scott Thompson and Lexicon Valley, in that order.

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