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Archive for the ‘marriage equality’ Category

Toolkit: Responding to common anti-equality remarks about marriage

This post is intended to be part of your toolkit when it comes to standing up for marriage equality for all loving, committed couples, regardless of the gender of each spouse.

It’s for pro-equality folks who are confused or baffled by how to respond to anti-gay or anti-equality remarks.

The offending remarks are often stated by well-intentioned people who have learned to parrot the lines they hear from socially conservative Americans, from their religious leaders, and from certain political parties, and from certain news media.  But accusing people of being hateful or bigoted doesn’t help change hearts or minds.

Below are sample anti-equality statements (S), followed by sample replies (R).  The replies are in italics.  As new remarks are made and given air-time within the mainstream media, I’ll update this post and add replies.

1. PROCREATION

  • (Statement) “Gays, lesbians, and same-sex couples can’t have children.”
  • (Reply) Gays, lesbians, and same-sex couples can have children in any number of ways that Americans raise a family:  through adoption; through blended families as a result of a previous marriage; and through artificial insemination. 
  • (S) “Marriage is about procreation.”
  • (R) At one point long ago, for strategic reasons among royalty involving maintaining heirs to the throne, that was true.  Today, there are plenty of couples who are married and are unlikely to procreate.  Consider men and women who meet and fall in love in their 60s, 70s, 80s, or older: they probably have no intention of starting a family!  There are also infertile couples, and couples who marry and simply don’t wish to have children.  And there are the less frequent marriages between, say, an 80-yr-old millionaire with 20-something-year-old gold-digging wife.  In addition, once a woman in a heterosexual marriage is beyond child-bearing years, shall the couple be required to divorce?

2.  GENDER

  • (S) “Every child deserves a mother and a father.”
  • (R) Is this still true if the couple included a physically abusive mother and a neglectful father? Is it in the best interests of the child or children to remain in that household for the sake of having both a mother and a father?  What if both parents were active alcoholics and emotionally absent? How does that compare to every child deserves a stable, loving parent, whether there’s one or two committed parents, whether two men, two women, or a woman and a man, as long as the parent or parenting couple is loving, present, available to the children, demonstrating mutual care and generosity of spirit?
  • UPDATE:  Please read the comments for an additional response about this point.  –Liz
  • (S) “Marriage has always been between a man and a woman.”
  • (R) More and more countries, and six states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia, allow and affirm marriage equality, indicating that marriage is between two loving *people* who make certain commitments to each other.  And the institution of marriage is far from perfect.  There have been shot-gun weddings, pre-arranged marriages, and strategic marriages in order to protect one’s land, wealth, and royal lineage.  It wasn’t too long ago when women  in the marriage were married off as property, transferred from one male-headed household to another.

3.  IMPOSED INCLUSION

  • (S) “They’ll impose the gay lifestyle onto heterosexuals and religion.”
  • (R) Just as no one can force religious communities or clergy to perform interfaith wedding ceremonies, no one can force those same communities to be required to provide same-sex marriage ceremonies. Marriage licenses are obtained through city hall or the county clerk’s office, not at your preacher’s pulpit.  Not to mention, so far it’s been heterosexual politicians, clergy, and supporters of reparative therapies who have been imposing the *heterosexual* lifestyle onto gays and lesbians.
  • (S) “They’ll teach the gay lifestyle in school.”
  • (R) The wholeness of humanity, not a select range of lifestyles, is what’s presented in our classrooms, including our collective history based on skin color, gender, nationality, and more recently, sexuality.  In addition, the heterosexual lifestyle has been over-represented, and until recently it’s been left unexamined, just as picture books and history books in the U.S. had been over-representing White society in the face of a diverse culture. Gay people and same-gender marriages exist, as do single-parent households, multi-racial families, extended families living under one roof, adoptive families, etc. Mentioning in a fictional or non-fictional story–even in a children’s book–that a child has two moms or two dads gives a snapshot of reality to balance out what otherwise would be an inaccurate portrayal that all of society is and has been White, able-bodied, middle-class, and male.

4.  ACCUSATIONS & MISINFORMATION

  • (S) “Gays are pedophiles.”
  • (R) If this were true, there would be headlines everywhere every week about “another gay person is arrested for pedophilia.”  There have been far more stories about sex scandals involving clergy and even politicians than about gays or lesbians.
  • (S) “Gay marriage will destroy the social fabric of our lives.”
  • (R) Again, where are the headlines from Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, the three other U.S. states that provide for marriage equality, and the District of Columbia, pointing to such unraveling? It appears that if the social fabric is deteriorating, it’s because of systemic racism, structural classism, Islamophobia, elitism, violence, and a national financial crises.  And if marriages fail, it’s because of adultery or irreconcilable differences, not because of two men or two women across town getting married.

Long-term, stable, committed couples who love each other and have a generous spirit lead to cohesive households, which in turn lead to cohesive communities.

When all the doctors were men and all the marriages were straight

There’s a link between White male doctors and heterosexual marriages. I’ll get to that connection in a little while.

. . . . . . . . . .

A number of years ago, my 80-something-year-old White heterosexual father began supporting marriage equality for all loving, committed couples regardless of the gender of the partners involved. (Why his change of heart is a subject for another post.)

More recently than that, in May this year I was explaining to my dad that a question to define marriage as only between one man and one woman would be on the Minnesota ballot in November 2012. He said, “Polls show that most Americans now support same-sex marriage, so that proposed constitutional amendment should be soundly defeated.”

I told him it wasn’t that easy. He asked me why not.

For one thing, I told him, not every heterosexual Minnesotan personally knows a loving, committed same-sex couple. Research shows, I added, that when a heterosexual person knows someone who identifies as gay or lesbian, or knows someone in a stable, loving same-sex relationship, that knowledge makes a big difference when it comes to who supports same-sex marriage.

But simply knowing someone in a same-sex relationship isn’t enough to get those same straight Minnesotans to begin to consider the issues tied up with the question of marriage equality. Some of the issues include which households get to have guaranteed visitation rights in the hospital during a health crisis–a very real issue for my spouse and me; which households are guaranteed the opportunity to make funeral arrangements for their loved one in the event of her or his death; and which households are guaranteed certain inheritances and social security benefits, without question or taxation, after said loved one has passed away.

Most heterosexual people think those guarantees can be achieved through civil unions or domestic partnerships. But not all states have these “separate but not quite equal” alternatives to marriage–and only marriage conveys the delight, hope, commitment, and public witness that so many–and so few–are able to enjoy. Furthermore, only a civil, legalized marriage is recognized from state to state, something that doesn’t happen with civil unions or domestic partnerships. Even some contracts that bestow certain qualities of marriage can be nullified, as in the state of Virginia.

The media itself clouds the issue by talking about proposed constitutional amendments that would “ban gay marriage.” Guests on radio shows, columnists for major newspapers, and pollsters calling homes at the dinner hour talk about or ask about if we are for or against banning gay marriage.

But when Minnesota voters go to the voting booth in 2012, we will not see the question, “Shall Minnesota ban gay marriage?” We won’t even see the word “ban” or the word “gay.”

Instead, the question for voters to consider will be printed without any context or commentary provided. It will read along the lines of:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?”

Had the question on the ballot been “Shall Minnesota ban gay marriage?” or “Shall Minnesota allow two people of the same gender to marry?” it’s unlikely that it would have passed, based on statements made by Maggie Gallagher, a Republican leader with ties to an anti-gay group.

This is where the doctor comes in.

When I was a child in grade school, I remember hearing discussions about who could or couldn’t be a doctor or a nurse. I remember hearing that men were doctors and women were nurses, and that certainly was my experience as a kid.

More specifically, given my upbringing in White suburbia, White men were doctors and White women were nurses, period.

But society was changing, and there was a push to expand the gender roles both in professions and at the home. Women could be doctors and lawyers; men could be nurses. Women could be attorneys; men could be flight attendants. Women could hold a job; men could change diapers and do laundry at home.

Even today, though, some 35-40 years later when I am nearly 50 years old, when someone asks me to picture a doctor and imagine what the doctor looks like, I still think of a White man. I need a beat or two to remind myself that there are in fact women doctors and doctors who aren’t White, but who are Asian, African American, East Indian.

So when Minnesotans come across the question about defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, those Minnesotans who haven’t thought about the issues thoroughly, or those who don’t have the historical context from which the question arises may not stop for a beat or two to remind themselves that there are in fact same-sex couples who have been married in religious ceremonies, who have acted as married couples for years or decades–but who haven’t been able to apply for a simple piece of paper that would affirm their love in the same way that their heterosexual peers can.

Minnesota voters may not stop to think about same-sex couples who have been married in other states or in other countries and whose marriage has had little or no harmful impact to their own conception of or direct experience of marriage.

We may not even equate that defining marriage as between one man and one woman is, in fact, a ban on same-sex marriage.

All it takes is the word “marriage” and bingo: Minnesotans think man, woman, married.

It fits with our initial, unexamined image of the fairy tale of the prince and the princess, and we quietly check the Yes box–even if we support marriage between two people of the same gender who love each other and want to grow old together.

I say, it’s time ramp up the cognitive dissonance:

Doctors don’t have to be Caucasian males, and marriages don’t have to be between heterosexual partners.

Authenticity, Happiness, Truth, and Marriage

I’m the type of person who believes that we desperately want to be told the truth.

As a result, when I begin to see and hear and listen to the truth, I’m drawn into it–and along with a bit of resistance, I tend to feel a release rather than a rush of vengeance or meanness if the truth seems to challenge what I had understood or professed before.

Often, it’s a matter of recognizing that I didn’t know that I hadn’t been told, taught, or modeled the truth up to that time.

That’s what this letter is about:

There is a truth about gay and lesbian people and their long-term committed relationships that we didn’t even know we were yearning for.

People who identify as gay or lesbian deserve to be publicly affirmed in their loving, long-term, committed relationships–relationships that lack a simple piece of paper from City Hall that says “Married.”

Let me back up.

There is a truth about wishing the best for our children and how that wish gets twisted and ignored as our children grow into adulthood–especially our children who don’t fit the cultural mold.

When we see the infants and the children who we have in our lives today–our biological children, the children from our blended families, and the children of our friends and siblings–we often inwardly or outwardly say to them,

“I hope you find happiness! I hope you grow up to be strong and proud of who you are! You deserve the very best in life. You deserve to be happy and healthy. I want that for you!”

Do any of us look at these same children in our lives and say, “I hope you find an opposite-gendered person to marry and procreate with”?

Don’t we say to these children in our lives,

“Be all of who you are! Be your best self. Do your best to do right by others.”

Or do we start them off in life by counseling them, “Be who I myself tell you to be. Be who the world tells you to be. Be who the religious leaders tell you to be. Don’t be who you really are. Take care of my own discomfort by hiding your true self that otherwise wouldn’t fit into these worldly molds, so that no one will look at me or you and judge our family…”

Would we truly say such a thing–“Don’t be who you really are”–to a newborn baby, a toddler, 3-year-old, a 4-year-old?

At what point does the message and the hope we wish to instill in our children begin to change? And what accounts for it?

I believe that what changes is not our children whose authenticity and innate potential for fullness resides within them; rather it is the socially entrenched adult who changes.

As babies and toddlers grow older, we witness them grow into young people. Meanwhile, we adults have been socialized without our consent* to accept without question certain behaviors as the norm.

If such socialization goes unexamined–for example, who can be doctors, who can raise a child, who can be secretaries, who can marry into a loving relationship–then we unintentionally begin to separate out the “norm” from “not-the-norm.”

And from “not-the-norm” we worry about the “not-normal.”

And the “not-normal” is a close cousin to “not-right.”

And then–we have been taught–we need to draw the line: Whatever is not the norm is therefore “wrong.”

But that is not the truth.

That is not the truth we yearn for and that is not the truth we should be telling the children in our lives.

The real truth, the True and Principled Truth remains, even if only a whisper in our adult ears, minds, and hearts:

I hope you find happiness! I hope you grow up to be strong and proud of who you are! You deserve the very best in life. You deserve to be happy and healthy.

And yet…

When we as adults can’t even point to the slippery slope down from where we’ve come, then most likely we unknowingly and unintentionally discard our innate support for authenticity and instead begin to use some invisible yardsticks that measure and identify norms and not-the-norms, training our youth to live by them and not by the True and Principled Truth.

It’s our own response to the children that has changed.

It’s a response that is trained and cultivated within us by the wider society without our knowledge and without our explicit consent.

It’s a response that moves us away from our natural hope for goodness and for happiness in a child’s life, to a different response of “You need to fit into the world, and what you do is a reflection of me and our family.”

When we begin to see how we are being shaped and trained to offer these hurtful, limiting messages to our children, when we begin to see the pattern of socialization-without-our-consent through television, children’s books, news stories, politics, movies, and religion, we will begin to feel angry: “How dare they trick me into believing these things!”

The good news is that at the same time that we begin to understand how we have been socialized, we automatically become empowered to take action.

We begin to tell the Real Truth about our capacity and our children’s capacity to live fully and authentically, to love fully and openly, to reach for happiness and to spread it.

We begin to climb back up the slope, from atop of which we can view the world–and our children–more clearly.

So why take all this time to describe the socialization process…?

It’s about telling the truth about what marriage means, and who can or can’t, should or shouldn’t marry.

When we consider whether to restrict marriage as a union only between a man and a woman, we must also consider what message the invisible part of that restriction is sending to our families, to our youth, and to ourselves.

If marriage is solely “defined” by that restriction, where does that leave the authentic expression of happiness and love for people who happen to fall in love with the not-norm, not-normal, “wrong” person?

Where does that leave the authentic, mutual expression of love experienced by a couple that does not fit into that particular format or definition of a loving, long-term, committed relationship, declared as such through a public statement in front of family and friends, if not on a piece of paper at City Hall?

If marriage is solely “defined” and restricted as between a man and a woman, what seemingly small pebble is going to be sent to roll down the hill that is our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future?

__________

*I don’t yet know who coined the phrase “socialized without our consent” but I first came across it at the 12th annual White Privilege Conference, held near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For religious people who are conflicted about same-sex marriage

If you are among the many invisible Americans who are conflicted about same-sex marriage, there are a variety of items to consider, including:

  • Understanding the dynamics of an identity shift.
  • Identifying creative tensions between values and experience.
  • Practicing being gentle with yourself as you sort things out.
  • Living “as if” in order to gain experience-based information.
  • Being “willing to be willing” as a way to alleviate inner conflict.
  • Addressing knowledge gaps proactively.
  • Exploring your own socialization process up to this point.

IDENTITY SHIFT
First of all, let’s name the dynamic you might be experiencing. If you have been conflicted about what to do about voting on the proposed amendment that would impact same-sex marriage, consider that what you are going through is an identity shift. Just naming what is going on can alleviate the stress and make it easier to address it.

An identity shift means that you are between trapezes, in a sort of limbo. You have let go of the trapeze that represented who you used to be, while being uncertain about what your life will be like once you grab the new trapeze. Or maybe you will return to the original trapeze you just released, realizing you aren’t ready to move into a new position or grasp and claim a new opinion.

It’s like walking to the edge of the high dive at a pool– and then, at that moment, realizing you’re not ready to jump.

With the issue of same-sex marriage and the proposal to define marriage as a union only between a man and woman, maybe you are shifting from the belief that marriage is always and only intended to be between a man and a woman, and you are earnestly and humbly seeking whether marriage can be expanded to include same-sex couples who also wish to make public loving commitments to one another, to provide mutual care for one another, and to grow old together.

Or maybe your belief is shifting in the reverse direction. So be it.

This identity shift and the status of being between trapezes is a process. It includes moving from the Known into the Unknown. The Unknown includes not knowing exactly when, where, or how the “incoming trapeze” will impact you.

Being in limbo like that is one of the hardest psychological tasks that we as humans will encounter, and that is likely why you are in such anguish.

CONFLICTING VALUES, EXPERIENCE, or KNOWLEDGE
Another reason for such anguish and inner conflict could be that you have a growing awareness of two or more things that are in tension with each other, pulling at you. Is there an unnamed conflict between the teachings of your own religious tradition and your personal values that you’ve been living by? Is there conflict between what your community or religious leaders are saying that go against your own direct experience of people who identify as gay or lesbian, or go against your own experience with people who identify as being part of a long-term, loving, same-sex relationship?

Maybe a religious teaching that you have followed is in direct conflict with a personal value, such as supporting the freedom for people to marry who they love; or it’s in conflict with what you know of the history of marriage, such as women were once considered a man’s property and marriage was a strategic way to transfer property or keep the peace.

Identify the rhetoric, behaviors, attitudes, etc. that you are most and least comfortable with and explore where the tension comes from. Discipline yourself to view this exploration as a refining process or as a way to clarify at a deeper level what you believe in. And give yourself time…

BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF
As I’ve said, being in limbo is a hard thing to live into. Give yourself the gift of practicing being gentle with yourself.

Begin to notice when your body tenses up as you think through certain points, when you read things in the news, hear them on television, or come across them on the internet.

Cultivate the simple ability to notice when your body tenses and when your body relaxes. Doing so can give you some indication of your own visceral response, which may in turn give you information about the direction you are naturally moving in, based on how you care for yourself and what your body tells you.

LIVE AS IF
Another technique is to live one day as if you disapproved of same-sex marriage and would therefore vote Yes on the proposed amendment, supporting the idea of defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The next day, you’d live as if you were okay with same-sex marriage and would vote No on the proposed amendment, indicating that you wouldn’t support defining marriage as only a union between a man and a woman.

Check in with yourself each day you “live as if” and reflect on how you viewed couples and families through that temporary lens. Consider keeping a journal to record new awarenesses and insights you may have.

BE WILLING TO BE WILLING
Another thing to do for yourself would be to practice what I call, “Be willing to be willing.”

If you don’t feel ready to open yourself to receive more understanding about the issue, then affirm that you are willing to be willing to understand where you are moving to.

Be willing to be willing to change.

Be willing to be willing to know what is the more loving thing to do in a given situation, and what stance more closely aligns with your values; those sorts of questions.

We might not be willing to be changed. That might be too scary. But we might be willing to be willing to be changed, and that can ease us into whatever change we’re being calling to, knowingly or unknowingly.

FILL IN YOUR OWN KNOWLEDGE GAPS
As a more intellectual step, take responsibility to explore your own knowledge gap about the history of the issue, about the dynamics of privilege and oppression, and about the impact on the groups who say they will be affected one way or another.

Get a handle on what evidence and what rumors are available about what impacts will truly occur.

For example, have those forecasted impacts occurred to heterosexual couples in other places where same-sex marriage is already allowed? Have they occurred to same-sex couples in places where same-sex marriage is barred?

In addition, in terms of identifying, addressing, or exploring knowledge gaps, consider what is the multi-generational impact of approving any constitutional amendment, versus having a law on the books that already prohibits same-sex marriage. Why was the constitution of any state written in the first place? What’s our current responsibility, if any, to standing by those original reasons and intentions?

LEARN ABOUT THE SOCIALIZATION PROCESS
There are many examples from history about how stereotypes are formed and reinforced, how they are broken down. Socialization happens in our families, in our political system, in our houses of worship, in our schools, among our peers, and through our newspapers, books, and television.

As infants and children, we can’t say, “Please teach me about unconditional love” or “Tell me about why Americans believe in the American Dream.”

We grow up in environments that decide for us what values and beliefs we should be exposed to–about White people, about women, about people of color, about vocation, about the value of education, the value of manual labor; about being on time and about taking time to connect with people we seldom see; about how tolerant and welcoming to be about differing viewpoints, or how dismissive…

Learn about how we are socialized, depending on if we are part of the dominant culture/majority group, or if we are part of the non-dominant culture/minority group. Then consider how that socialization plays into your stance on the issue you are exploring.

And remember the trapezes. We can spend a lot of time in between them, but the world keeps on spinning, oftentimes according to the whims and the will of the majority.

Marriage equality: Field test the expected language of the proposed amendment

It appears to be very significant to field test with and poll people using the expected language used on Minnesota’s proposed constitutional amendment and not its converse.

Expected language of the proposed constitutional amendment:

Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?

Why it’s important to use the above language as we engage Minnesotans in conversation about voting NO on this proposed amendment:

1. Conservatives acknowledge that when they polled people about a question such as “Are you in favor of a banning gay marriage?” in contrast with a question such as “Should marriage be defined as between a man and a woman?” the difference in opinion polls was TEN POINTS.

2. The more time Minnesotans have to think about the actual question that will be posed, the more time they have to “unpack” what is hidden in that question.

Example 1: Why don’t Conservatives want to use the question “Shall Minnesota ban gay marriage”?

When have there been other times when the population wanted to define marriage so as to restrict minority groups from being able to marry, and where do those groups stand now?

  • Blacks couldn’t marry blacks at one point
  • Interracial marriage was illegal until 44 years ago

Example 2: Why do Conservatives want an amendment on top of the DOMA law, which already defines marriage as between a man and a woman?

  • The complaint is “activist judges.”
  • This proposed amendment is about obstructionist politics.

Example 3: When have there been other times in history when a minority group has had their rights put to a vote, and how do those times reflect on the current proposed amendment?

  • All sorts of laws regarding the rights of enslaved Africans
  • The right for women to own property or to vote
  • The right for African Americans to vote (cf. poll taxes)

3. Anecdotal evidence when asking Minnesotans about their view on same-sex couples and same-sex marriage.

I live in the Twin Cites. I’ve asked a small sample of Minnesotans who also live in the Twin Cities about their views on same-sex marriage. All of them (100%), including strangers, said they either support same-sex marriage or that we should “live and let live,” “keep what goes on in the bedroom private,” etc. BUT– when I then asked the question as it is phrased in the proposed amendment, all but two (80%) answered they would vote FOR the amendment. When they were told about the incongruence between their initial stance on same-sex marriage and how they responded to the amendment, most were embarrassed or taken aback when they realized they would have voted for something they didn’t want to endorse.

This anecdotal evidence may well point to the importance of making Minnesotans aware of how the question will be phrased on the 2012 ballot and how the question is directly related to the issue of marriage equality and supporting same-sex marriage.

Marriage equality: Links of interest

ONLINE ARTICLES

Freedom To Marry‘s report on Why Marriage Matters (as a pdf file), including tips on how to lift up shared values and about reframing the conversation on what marriage “gives” to all couples and families.

What happened with California’s failed campaign to defeat Proposition 8: what worked, what didn’t; what ads and responses were or weren’t effective

Melissa Harris-Perry’s 2011 article on LGBT advocates and their need for a public, progressive faith

Warren Blumenfeld addresses scapegoating and stereotyping of the GLBT community

Abby Ferber points out how heterosexual privilege and adultery by straight men feed into the accusation that same-sex marriage will destroy straight marriage

Wikipedia’s entry on Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” homophobic campaign in the 1970s

NPR story on upcoming 2012 vote on proposed constitutional amendment, with graphics about recent polls

Articles from the anti-marriage-equality group Minnesota Family Council’s website that were later removed

ONLINE VIDEO & AUDIO

Raw footage from the Minnesota Capitol as the House floor vote is taken and immediately afterward

Two Conservative Americans change their mind about gay marriage

A young female Republican from Minnesota, Madeline Koch, offers testimony in support of marriage equality in front of the Minnesota Senate

Minnesota Representative Tim Kelly (R-Red Wing) speaks out against the proposed constitutional amendment about defining (restricting) marriage

California voters talk about how they feel toward same-sex marriage and why they voted the way they did on Proposition 8

Iowa grandmother supports her gay son and speaks out in favor of gay marriage

Two of TV’s “Golden Girls” talk about how marriage is about love, not about gender

Marriage equality: Actions

Possible actions to take in advance of 2012 vote on defining (restricting) marriage

1. Travel across Minnesota, asking allies and supportive faith communities to host Open Houses or Round Tables

  • How to talk about the issue
  • How to host Open Houses

2. Travel across Minnesota, reaching out especially to people who are struggling with the issue

  • Do they know about the proposed constitutional amendment?
  • Do they know how the issue would affect same-sex committed couples?
  • Among their circle of friends, do they have someone who is in a same-sex relationship?
  • What would help them clarify the issues? How can I/we help?

3. Have communities of GLBT people participate in community actions that aren’t about GLBT issues.

  • Wear same colored shirt.
  • Identify when a donation is made by a member of the GLBT community and/or by a committed/married same-sex couple.

4. Interview and record/video straight married couples, especially in Iowa but also in D.C. and in other states that legally recognize all married couples.

  • Seek couples who can affirm that their marriage hasn’t been threatened, hurt, or undermined by same-sex marriage.
  • Seek a diversity of couples.

5. Create a series of small booklets, pamphlets, or tracts that address various topics.

  • Marriage equality
  • Threats to marriage
  • Living with being conflicted
  • Being socialized without our consent
  • Married couples living side by side
  • Marriage, love, and gender
  • Making nice with marriage in Minnesota
  • Personal story, whatever it may be

6. Work within your house of worship to host a joint/simultaneous Renewal of Vows for all couples, while also demonstrating a witness for marriage equality.

  • Invite the public to attend.
  • In the program/press release, have information about the upcoming vote on the proposed constitutional amendment and, for transparency, what the arguments are on both sides.
  • Have some way to increase the level of accountability for attenders/participants to advocate for marriage equality and to get the message out to vote NO in 2012.

NOTE: The idea for this sort of action comes from the Quakers at Milwaukee Friends Meeting from a few years ago and from this June 2011 article by an African American pastor who is in a heterosexual interracial marriage.

7. Create webpages or websites dedicated to certain themes or concepts.

  • A visual image to address the 515 rights denied same-sex couples in Minnesota: An expandable file with tabs. Click on the tab and an expanded description of that item pops up. The “description” could be a personal true story that illustrates the right that is taken for granted by straight couples but is denied to same-sex couples, regardless of how long their commitment and life together has been. (ex. My friend’s story of how, when her partner of 28 years died, the people who came to remove the body asked, “Who’s the next of kin?” My friend replied, “I am,” but the people there said, “No you’re not,” and on the death certificate, her marital status was listed as “Single.”
  • The changes to the institution of marriage, made visually interesting. Something like an image side by side with passages from Scripture that describe marriage.
  • A flow chart, showing the deterioration of rights when a law or constitutional amendment is passed that disadvantages or punishes a group that doesn’t conform to or look like the majority/those in power
  • Messages we’ve “inherited” or have been indoctrinated by, simply by the process of socialization and structural racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, etc.

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