The DLF Party’s Veteran’s Caucus has made a point of standing strong against the amendment that would ban the freedom to marry in Minnesota. Minnesota Army National Guard Specialist Brian Cihacek chairs the caucus and is leading their effort against this amendment. He talks with us about why and what motivates him and the group to defeat the amendment.
Lavender Magazine: You are the chair of the DFL Veterans Caucus, which has made defeating this amendment one of its top priorities, as well as a straight ally. Some people may not see the connection between veterans’ issues and equality issues. Can you explain why you as a straight veteran feel so passionately about defeating this amendment?
BC: I think a key value at stake in this fight is freedom. Freedom can mean freedom from something and, in this case, I think the freedoms of the minority stand threatened by majority.
As a veteran, I believe we must affirm policy which represents the hopes and aspirations of citizens rather than parties or ideologues, and because this constitutional amendment does not reflect that sentiment, it ought to be defeated.
LM: Have you served with any gay servicemen or women? What kind of conversations have you had about how not having the freedom to marry affects them?
BC: I have served with gay servicemen and women. Because most of my service occurred under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, this topic was not widely discussed for fear of stigma. This lack of an atmosphere where dialogue can occur is the sort of environment we can change through defeating this amendment and not making it just a gay issue, but an issue about our preserving civil rights.
LM: What kind of benefits would be denied the partner of a gay service member that are currently available to straight married couples?
BC: Some of the benefits are the capacity for shared housing, spousal relocation, and a dependent modifier to certain pay benefits. Not to mention the numerous benefits given to surviving spouses in the event something happens in the field.
LM: If you could put in one word what value defeating the amendment embodies, what would it be?
Brian is a part of the Veterans United for All Families coalition. If you are interested in being a part of it, please contact Trevor@mnunited.org.