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Marriage Amendment

I have been meaning to post this before today, but didn't have time. Despite the fact that I have a political science degree, I am not often a very politically active person, especially since moving to the US. But both Leah and I have been volunteering with the Vote No campaign, and one of the pointers they gave was that everyone needs to tell their personal stories. Then, Nathen and Kirsten were asked to host Thanksgiving for the family, and the hypocrisy of possibly providing such hospitality - hospitality made possible by their partnership - to family members who had just voted against them was too much to let go. So we got together and wrote the letter below. Of course, sending it has caused some family drama, and while we did get together with some family members on Saturday, as we had offered, it didn't last long before the yelling and the storming out.

At this point we are still waiting to hear the vote results on the amendment, but either way, their lack of understanding of our feelings and of the impact of a yes vote is something that will be hard to get over. On the other hand, we have heard support from some of the letter recipients, as well as from other friends and family, and that has been amazing.

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October 26, 2012

Dear family,
We are writing to you today to share our feelings about the upcoming vote on the marriage amendment. We understand that writing a letter is very unusual in this age of electronic communication and given the fact that we spend time together on a regular basis. However, we also know that there are passionate feelings about this topic and we want to express ourselves in a calm and thoughtful manner. The fact that we decided to write this letter reflects our strong feelings about the importance of this issue. Please know that this letter is not meant to start a conflict, and we aren’t presuming to know how you plan to vote. We all need to be open and understand each others’ views on this amendment, so we are also willing to read or hear anything you’d like to share with us.

We would like to start by reminding you that same-sex marriage is currently against the law in Minnesota and will continue to be, regardless of the outcome of this vote. We are simply asking that this rule not be put in the constitution because that closes the conversation on the possibility of gay and lesbian people - people like us - having the benefits and rights that married people currently have. It is the role of the state constitution to protect people’s rights, not enshrine discrimination.

You know that as individual couples and families, Leah & Amy and Nathen & Kirsten have shown a deep commitment to each other for many years. We have supported each other through good times and bad times, just as you have. But we also appreciate the support and commitment that we all have as a larger family. The four of us all enjoy the time that we spend together at family events, and we think you feel the same way. We’ve all experienced fun, laughter, joy, and comfort with each other. Amy and Kirsten especially want to express their appreciation of the love and acceptance that they have felt from you all - more than many in-laws can ever hope for. It is for these reasons that we find the idea of anyone voting yes on this amendment so hurtful. We are all family and don’t understand being set apart as different in the state constitution. Amy and Kirsten also have gay siblings and this just reinforces the fact that voting against this amendment is so important to us on such a personal level. Kirsten hopes that some day Devon will experience the same love and support of an extended family that you have provided, and can’t help but think how much better it would be if this relationship was recognized by the state. Amy and Leah were lucky enough to witness Cory and Joe’s wedding last year, and saw firsthand how moving it can be to publicly recognize a family bond in this way.
For Nathen and Kirsten, there is also the issue of the message that this amendment sends to Kaleb and Isabella (your grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and relatives). We are looking for a place where we can raise our children where our family will be recognized as a valid family. We always thought that Minnesota was such a place, and we are sad that it may no longer be. We are heartbroken to think of our children or any children getting the message that gay and lesbian people do not deserve equal rights and are second-class citizens.

All of us have dealt with some type of medical issue and situations where decisions have to be made. We have had discussions with many of you about the complexities of these situations and our wishes, hopes, and fears. We feel that putting this amendment into the constitution will make it impossible for us to ever have the chance to feel confident that our commitment, knowledge, and devotion will be acknowledged and respected enough that we will have the same ability as you do to make decisions for our partners in case of an emergency.

We know that many people believe that some sort of domestic partnership or civil union can provide the rights and protections that are mentioned above, but “marriage” is between a man and a woman. We do not want to argue about language, but the current reality is that marriage is the word used by the state in legislation about couples and families. Minnesota state law says that marriage is a civil contract. An amendment that takes away our right to enter into this civil contract is hurtful and makes us feel like second-class citizens. This amendment does not have anything to do with the religious definition of marriage, and voting no does not mean that churches will be forced to perform same-sex marriages.

Like we said above, we want this letter to be part of an open dialogue. For this reason, we will be gathering at Nathen and Kirsten’s house on Saturday, November 3 from 5-7pm. We invite you to join us to share questions, stories, and viewpoints. If there is information you’d like us to have ahead of time, please feel free to share it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter and to truly reflect on the implications of this amendment for Nathen, Kirsten, Kaleb, Isabella, Amy, Leah, and future members of our family. We can’t say enough how important this issue is and how hurtful a yes vote will be. It affects us on a very personal level.

With love and respect,
Leah [contact info]
Nathen
Amy
Kirsten


cc:
[family member names]

PS. We have chosen to send
this letter to close family members who spend time together. If you feel that there is someone we’ve missed, please feel free to share it.


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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
crustyshoes
Nov. 7th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this. I think it's such a great idea and such an important reminder to family and friends that voting really does affect those so close to them. I'm sorry some of your family is still having difficulty. I feel so greatful to live in a place where same sex marriage is legal. There is still discrimination (which kind of blows my mind, I mean, it's 2012..how is this still going on?) but people have the rights they should. It should be that way everywhere.
amagdalyn
Nov. 8th, 2012 12:34 am (UTC)
Yeah this has definitely been one of those times when I keep asking myself why I haven't moved back to Canada. The sad thing is that all the arguing hasn't even been about making it legal, just about not making it extra constitutional style illegal.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )