On March 12, 2013, the Minnesota Legislature heard the committee testimony on Rep. Karen Clark and Sen. Scott Dibble’s same sex marriage bills in both the House and Senate. While both committees had arranged testimony, the impact of the two hearings could not have been more different. Here’s what I mean.
In the House, the committee of ten DFLers and seven Republicans heard one pro- and then one anti- same sex marriage testifier back and forth lending a great deal of heightened emotion in the room. Nerves were rubbed raw as a person would make the case of how he believed marriage between two people regardless of gender should be recognized by the state. Then an opponent would argue against changing the law. Back and forth, these arguments were made. Witnesses had only two minutes to speak. The morning testimony, starting at 8:15 am was immediate, electric, and moving.
The Senate hearing was quite different, though some of the testimony was the same. The Senate hearing was more staged. The proponents of the same sex marriage bill spoke first. Each witness built a case around the ideas of marriage equality and for expanding the marriage franchise for the good of society.
Then the opponents were heard. One by one, they argued against each point. These witnesses said marriage is inherently public policy for the raising of children. They argued same sex marriage could have negative repercussions to society as a whole. It was as passionate as the proponent’s case but simply didn’t have a solid reason for not recognizing the relationships of same sex couples.
While the House committee hearing was vibrant and openly emotional, the Senate hearing was more cerebral and measured. The witnesses where given more time to speak. The two sides laid out their cases. In the end, the Senate committee voted to send the bill to the floor.
The House committee wasn’t able to accommodate all who wanted to speak in the morning, so an evening session was arranged. The testimony continued, but after a couple of opponents of same sex marriage, the remaining witnesses were all proponents of the bill. I was struck, in particular, with the very last witness.
Kirsten Lindbloom was one of those making an immediate and compelling case for the bill. Her testimony at the House Civil Law committee hearing can be found at UpTakeVideo on Youtube.com. Her comments begin at around 34 minutes into the video file.
First Lindbloom explained that she and her partner had a public ceremony in Austin, MN.They decided to have it there because it was their home. They hoped one day Minnesota would recognize their relationship. It has become a mission for her. She testified:
“Three years ago, my Jenny was diagnosed with cancer; it’s the slow growing and deadly kind. She’s beating the odds. She’s pushing back the clock but every day she’s fighting for time. During the height of her illness our marriage hope disappeared. In November 2012 we celebrated the passing of Jenny’s expected “expiration date” and the defeat of the marriage amendment. Jenny continues to fight and with the shift in Minnesota’s political climate our marriage hope has returned. As a woman facing the loss of her wife, I am compelled, I am driven and determined to make the dreams she dreams come true.”
For Kirsten and Jenny, this is no longer a “wait and see” situation. For them, the window is closing. They won’t have the luxury of “ten years or whatever” for the state government to recognize their relationship. It is testimony like this that moves me to do what I can to get something this year.
Kirsten and Jenny aren’t alone. Kirsten was able to tell their story but others are experiencing the same situation. She spoke for those who also don’t have much time left. Kirsten was the surrogate voice.
The House committee also voted to move the bill to the floor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they have the votes to pass it yet.
Therefore, we need more stories like theirs. We need the legislators to understand real lives are affected by this topic. There are people who want to cement their relationship and have the state recognize their life decisions. If you have a story, share it with your legislators. Send these real life dilemmas to them showing how this matters to us on a visceral level.
We don’t have much time. The “expiration date” for legislative action is fast approaching. We need to rally and compel our elected officials and let them know they are running out of time.
Contact Your Politicians
Governor Mark Dayton
Phone: (651) 201-3400
Email: http://mn.gov/governor/contact-us/form/ (Web Contact Form)
Senator Tom Bakk
Phone: (651) 296-8881
Representative Paul Thissen
Phone: (651) 296-5375
Representative Erin Murphy
Phone: (651) 296-5496
“The DFL’s Big Gay Farce” from Issue 457, November 29, 2012
“Three of Four Top Elected Minnesota Politicians Comment on the Marriage Debate” from Issue 458, December 13, 2012
“‘Earnest Money:’ Repeal DOMA Now” from Issue 458, December 13, 2012
“Why We Can’t Wait” an Interview with Sen. John Marty from Issue 460, January 10, 2013
“Waiting for Superman” from Issue 460, January 10, 2013
“Don’t Skip Dessert” an Interview with Rep. Ryan Winkler from Issue 461, January 24, 2013
“What’s In A Name?” A Case for Civil Unions from Issue 461, January 24, 2013
“Outreach: Conversation with Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R)” from Issue 462, February 7, 2013
“Carrie Chapman Catt’s Winning Plan” from Issue 462, February 7, 2013
“Our Family Albums” from Issue 463, February 21, 2013
“Talking Strategy with Richard Carlbom [of Minnesotans United for All Families]” from Issue 463, February 21, 2013
“Vanguard” from Issue 464, March 7, 2013