Friday, June 22, 2012

Sorry I'm Late to the Party

This weekend I am going to be at the Twin Cities Pride parade, showing my support for a group called Minnesotans United for All Families, who is fighting the marriage amendment that Minnesotans will be voting on this November. This amendment strictly defines marriage as existing between a man and a woman and makes it legally prohibitive to allow same-sex marriages.
I was telling some of my family what I will be doing this weekend and was surprised by their reaction, which was "I didn't know you were gay!" While said in jest, it said a lot about why gay rights haven't moved much in this country until recently.

I suspect that very sentiment is why so many straights have chosen not to support gay rights, at least publicly. "Gay" isn't something that is for the most part physically obvious, unlike race or gender. For many of us, fear of being classified with homosexuals kept us from standing up for their rights.

Yet if you look back in history, every time a group that had been discriminated against moved forward in their struggle for equality, it was because of the work of people outside of that group. There was not a single black person in Congress when slavery was abolished in 1865, not a single woman in a seat of power when women got the right to vote in 1920. And the civil rights movement of the 1960s could not have made the progress that it made without the support of whites who put their lives in danger to stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens.

I hadn't really thought about the impact of gays being denied the ability to marry until I heard stories from a good friend who is gay. She and her partner are incredibly committed to each other, as much if not moreso than any heterosexual couple. They own a house and have a child together, all of which has to be done at considerable legal expense to protect their rights.

I took for granted until talking to them the legal rights that I'm afforded in the home purchases my husband and I have made over the years. Buying a house as a married couple is easy -- our earning power and credit scores are pooled together and we own the home together. As a gay couple, they have to produce legal documents binding them financially in the purchase of the home and defining joint ownership. If they haven't already, they will have to take on the expense of having my friend adopt her own daughter, because she is biologically her partner's and not hers. If one of them were to die unexpectedly, the other would have no benefits as a surviving spouse. And don't even get me started on custodial rights of their daughter in that situation.

I suspect that lawyers LOVE same-sex couples and are voting for the marriage amendment -- it'll keep them in business.

I have looked on in frustration as state after state passed these marriage amendments, wishing there was something I could do to help. Now that the issue is being brought to the table in Minnesota, I am ready to stand up for my fellow citizens' rights.

I'm sorry I didn't speak up earlier or make my opinions more well known to support the LGBT community. Minnesotans United organizers encourage supporters to tell others that they support it -- once someone shares that they do, others will finally open up that they are also in agreement. I have a little bit bigger soapbox than others through this blog, so I am making my opinions known.

Sorry I'm late to the party. But I'm here now, so let's rock and roll.

Vote NO in NOvember.

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