Have the votes happened at the Capitol? Do we have marriage equality? This issue went to press without any movement happening at the Capitol, yet. In the week between hitting “send” and it hitting the stands, we may have found out if all Minnesotans will get the Freedom to Marry in 2013.
I feel just as I did before Election Day in 2012: Anxious and optimistic, but protective. I am optimistic that the legislators will do the right thing and be on the right side of history by voting for marriage equality. I am protective of this community, whether or not it passes (or has passed).
This topic has not left my mind and heart since November 6, 2012, when victory in defeating the amendment turned into “What’s next?”
Are we celebrating today, are we waiting with hope in our hearts, or are we pointing fingers? You know the saying, “Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is but an orphan.” The victory in November of 2012 was shared by many and there were clear sides: you vote no or you vote yes (and have a direct impact on the outcome). This campaign for marriage equality (that does not rely on our votes on a ballot) is less easy to categorize or conceptualize. As a community, we have grappled with it. We have looked for as easy of an answer as the two options we were given in November, but it’s not that simple. It’s not that easy. There is more to it than all-or-nothing and looking at what that might constitute does not make someone against equality, it makes someone against nothing. It’s up to our legislators to decide the future of this community’s rights; they are the sole people who have the power and they will be held accountable.
And that’s how we do this. We explore the ideas and we challenge the people in power to do their jobs.
We’ve published all of the Letters to the Editor we’ve received to date–there have been very few. There have been some Facebook posts on Lavender’s page but, again, very few. These facts indicate that the community is also considering various scenarios, I’d say, while still largely wanting marriage equality. A while back, there was a comment on a Facebook post that was critical of Lavender talking about civil unions. I paraphrase, but it was something about how accepting civil unions because we don’t deserve better is abusive and this community has had enough of that kind of abuse. I disagree with the assessment that saying civil unions are better than nothing is the same as saying civil unions are what the community deserves, instead of equality. Such an idea that the community doesn’t deserve full equality has never been published in Lavender. But I can understand how even raising the option can also raise hackles.
My own hackles haven’t relaxed since 2012. I have hated being media because I have hated being objective, to be honest. To be objective means that I have had to challenge my own ideas and thoughts and be open to looking at others. At first, when civil unions were mentioned to me, I treated the concept like Voldemort in Harry Potter–as if the mere mention of the term had power and that power was evil–and I wanted the term to never be uttered again. I lost that argument. As the weeks progressed, I came to see that civil unions are an option, but I will still argue that they are not an equal substitute for marriage. Civil unions are not marriages of a different name or equal to marriage, because civil unions aren’t granted with uniting in mind; they’re designed to appease a group while making sure that they’re not allowed to become legitimized and “normal.” That is abusive, especially for people who haven’t come out yet or for young people who are trying to figure out who they are without hating themselves.
I worry about what constitutes more abuse for this community. Silencing each other is abusive. Shaming each other is abusive. Being told by legislators that they’re not going to vote this year about whether this community gets marriage equality is abusive…that this community’s lives can just be on hold for another year and in limbo. Being told that a party has this community’s best interests in mind but that they won’t make equality happen is abusive.
I hope that this article is irrelevant because marriage equality has already happened by the time you read it. Regardless, I want to thank the legislators who unquestioningly supported this community and those who took risks to do so. I hope you have had the opportunity to go on the record with your support so that your credibility with the community is beyond reproach. I want to thank you for your action as well as your words. I want to vote you back into office.
If we haven’t reached that point yet in the legislative session, I hope that the people in power see how important it is to remain credible with this community. Words are one thing, actions are another…and actions will give this community what it deserves: equality.