Q & A with Bridgette (Bee) Rongitsch, Director of Program Development, Minnesotans United for All Families
Lavender Magazine: As Director of Program Development, what is your role with the campaign?
Bee: I oversee the development of innovative organizing tools that will help our campaign reach Minnesota voters in new and effective ways to defeat this amendment. My team works on a variety of programs including Republican outreach, youth organizing, the neighbor-to-neighbor program, and most recently we launched our “kNOw” campaign.
LM: What is “kNOw”?
Bee: Minnesotans United is running a campaign driven by conversations to let people know about this freedom-limiting amendment. While this is happening through conversation drives on the phones and doors, we also know these conversations are happening at kitchen tables, in churches, and at family events all across the state. The “kNOw” program provides Minnesotans with tools, training and support to help them respectfully and effectively engage friends, family, neighbors and coworkers in conversations about why it is so vitally important to vote “no” in November. Our goal for this program is to ignite 100,000 new conversations across the state, educating folks about how this amendment hurts real Minnesotans and how we can defeat it.
LM: Why is kNOwing important to defeating this amendment?
Bee: What we know from our own research is that 67 percent of people with GLBT friends vote “no” if we talk with them about why marriage matters and how important it is to vote no. Simply knowing someone who is LGBT or allied is not enough. When we talk with people about the amendment, they vote with us. We need to have the conversation!
The “kNOw” program empowers our community to start having these conversations now. We truly believe that this is the single most important action any person can take toward defeating the amendment.
LM: We have heard a lot about how Minnesotan’s United for All Families is focused on having a conversation campaign. How does this new program support that goal?
Bee: This new initiative will engage our supporters in a whole new way. We hope that the support, tools and training we provide through the “let people kNOw” program will give our community the confidence to have these conversations, not just with strangers on the phones or at the doors, but with the people with whom they have existing relationships.
LM: Minnesotans United had a large presence at PRIDE. What strategic role did this program play at the festival?
Bee: We specifically launched this program at PRIDE to spark the grassroots power of over 300,000 supporters engaging with the campaign during the celebration. Launching “kNOw” at PRIDE allowed the campaign to arm our supporters with the tools they need to ensure we defeat this amendment. Our supporters left PRIDE with a call to attend a “kNOw” conversation training and to begin taking action.
LM: As Election Day nears how can we expect this program to grow?
Bee: “kNOw” has huge growth potential as we move toward November. We are asking members of our community to make firm commitments on who they are going to talk with so that we can move all Minnesotans towards voting no! As we continue opening offices across the state and organizing in every city, this program will allow each and every supporter to make a serious contribution to the campaign through persuading voters they know to vote no on November 6!