This week, we sat down with Regional Organizing Director Michelle Dibblee and Field Organizers Nick Kor, Liza Scott, Elizabeth Nordland, and Alison Froehle of the Minnesotans United for All Families field team to talk about the conversation happening in Minnesota around voting No in November to defeat the marriage amendment.
Lavender Magazine: What is it about having the conversation about the marriage amendment that is so important to defeating it?
Michelle Dibblee: We know there are a lot of people who know gay people that do not support marriage for same-sex couples. Study after study shows that creating a personal connection with people is the best way to get our friends and family to vote no, because they know how it will affect someone they care about in their life.
LM: It sounds like these conversations make a big difference. How does a conversation about marriage for same-sex couples and voting no on the marriage amendment typically go?
Alison Froehle: They are all different. I have had some great conversations, some really surprising conversations, and conversations that didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Most people are surprised at how easy it is to have the conversation after you just start talking to someone about it. The hardest part is just starting the conversation.
LM: Knowing the conversations can be intimidating to start, what would you tell someone who wants to start having conversations with the people in their life?
Elizabeth Nordland: Start slow. Pick people who you think might already be supportive of marriage for same-sex couples and ask them about voting no in November. These starter conversations can really help people build some confidence and get a feel for how conversations like this feel. The most important thing you can do is start simple, and talk about why the issue is important to you and why you care about it. It might feel weird at first, but you will definitely get more comfortable once you start having a conversation.
MD: I agree with Elizabeth. So many of the people we talk to are somewhere on their journey to understanding and acceptance. It is important to remember to be open to actually listening to people’s inner conflicts about marriage for same-sex couples. Get comfortable asking about their thoughts and talking about your own personal experiences.
LM: How are these conversations going to help people on their journey to ultimately vote no on the marriage amendment?
Nick Kor: As Michelle said, be open. There are times when the conversation can be uncomfortable, but remember: that’s okay. The first conversation is just planting the seed and getting people to think about it. From there, we can better understand where they are on their personal journey and what we can do to help them along. Many people don’t fully realize how this amendment would affect LGBT people and when you tell them the ways it will, they listen. It has a real impact.
Liza Scott: Nick is absolutely right. When people voice their opinion on marriage for same-sex couples and the amendment, we can better understand how to talk to them about it. Many people don’t realize that same-sex couples want to get married for similar reasons as straight couples.
LM: What do you think is considered a successful conversation with someone about voting no on the amendment?
AF: Beginning the conversation and getting people to think deeper about the issue is a success in itself. Like we said, this is just planting the first seed and you can develop it from there, but if you don’t start somewhere, there is no way to get people to realize how important it is to vote no.
MD: Alison is right, that is the most important part. Often, politics is very abstract, but this amendment is very personal and it feels like Minnesota is voting for or against us. So it is our job to help Minnesotans understand the personal nature of it through conversation. That is how they will vote no come November. Remember: you don’t have to necessarily get anyone to vote no right away – you just need to start talking about it.