From the Editor: The Psychology of Victory

By Andy Lien December 13, 2012

Categories: Causes, Our Affairs, Our Lives

This is a tough one to write.  I’ve been chewing on this since November 7 and it’s not getting easier as time goes by.  What was our victory on November 6?  What will our next one be?  The realization that we are no further than we were before the election is really taking root.  Worse, the realization that we don’t have direction for what’s next is truly worrisome.  Perhaps by the time this issue is on stands, we’ll have more direction, but for now, we’re rudderless in the water.

We fought this amendment because we were forced to; it was foisted into our lives.  Now, what are we going to choose to do?

I don’t remember if it was the day after the election or the day after that, but I was approached a bit too soon with the idea that Marriage Equality has been dropped like a hot potato.  I believe the term to describe my facial expression was “deer in headlights.”  Honestly, I was getting an issue to press (a two-day process every ten days) and was working with very little sleep.  I was still riding the buzz of victory.  I wasn’t a deer in headlights, I was pissed off and in denial.  I’d say my expression was “stop talking right now.”

Dropped?  Like a hot potato?  HOW?  We’ve got MOMENTUM!  We’re on a high!  WINNING.

If this conversation had been an exchange on the internet, it would’ve ended with “Too soon? LOL.”

It was too soon.

Oh, but guess what.  It’s never too soon for the media.  As the publication for the GLBT community in the state that just defeated a discriminatory amendment by popular vote, I have to stay nimble.

I’d recommend we all stay nimble.  But, it’s really hard.  I’d say that there’s a certain barrier we all have to break through to get to the next stage of the unknown.

An important term at this point in the discussion is “cognitive dissonance.”  Dissonance is discord.  What’s in our head is our cognition.  Cognitive dissonance is a mental quarrel.  It brings with it anger, confusion, sadness, grappling.  We may hold two or more thoughts that conflict with each other.  Mine were: we fought this amendment together, why aren’t we fighting for marriage equality together, now?  I looked you in the face and listened to you every time you rallied us against this amendment—this summer at Pride, at fundraisers upon fundraisers, at the last rally at the U of M, at Election Night with Minnesotans United for All Families—why are you saying that it’s now time to wait to make progress toward Marriage Equality?

Let’s look at those ideas, because I know I’m not alone in this gross space of cognitive dissonance.  When we notice that we have two conflicting ideas, one of the next steps is to examine them and consider if they’re actually conflicting.

To say that we fought this amendment together is true.  To assume why we fought it can get us into an unknown area.  We don’t know why everyone who voted against it voted no, unless they tell us.  There were different organizations involved; some pushed for marriage equality, the more vocal and obvious one—Minnesotans United for All Families—was pushing for the defeat of the amendment.  The defeat of the amendment does not mean marriage equality, as we know, but many people supported MUAF because of they’re pushing for marriage equality.  It worked and it worked well.  In my interview with Richard Carlbom in this issue, the MUAF Campaign Manager even says that they were focusing on the emotional aspect of this issue and how much marriage means to keep this amendment out of the constitution.  Indeed, it was—and is—emotional.

And, largely because of emotion, it was victorious.

But, there were other reasons why people voted against the amendment.  Some people voted no because they recognized that such an amendment didn’t belong in the Minnesota State Constitution; perhaps not even really caring about the issue of same-sex marriage.  Some people voted no because it was a redundant piece of legislation in a state that already doesn’t allow same-sex marriage.  Some people voted no because they didn’t want the conversation toward marriage equality to end.  Some people voted no because it discriminated against the GLBT community.  Some people voted no because they believe in Marriage Equality and this amendment had to be defeated.  Some people voted no because they thought they were voting against gay marriage.  Some people voted no because they thought it would result in gay marriage.

Some people in our community didn’t vote no.

Next, consider the second idea that conflicts with the first, we’re being told by our legislators that we’re going to wait to continue our progress toward Marriage Equality.  We need to focus on jobs. We need to focus on the economy. We need to keep the conversation going.  And, from non-legislators, we need to proceed carefully so we can keep control of the legislature.

WHAT?!

Didn’t we just stand shoulder-to-shoulder and side-by-side in this fight toward equality and now you want to let the iron get cold?

This is where I have to hold myself in check.  The acute cognitive dissonance only lasts as long as I stay suspended here.  Yes, we stood side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder against the amendment, but yes, it was for different reasons.  And, yes, we’re back to where we were before this issue was put on the ballot.  And, no, I should not assume that everyone who voted no did so as a measure toward Marriage Equality.  And, no, we will not agree on what is to be the next important issues to be handled by our state legislature…because standing side-by-side against the amendment actually had nothing to do with the next session of legislation.

Dammit.

Like I said, the acute cognitive dissonance passes when we get to the point of realizing that there were different reasons for voting no in this last election; let’s be grateful that so many people did.  But, more of the cognitive dissonance will be relieved when someone takes charge of the next step.  And, as we consider the next step, we need to keep talking about the possibilities.

I don’t know where you are in this process of talking about what happened, where we are now, and what’s coming up.  I don’t blame you if you’re in the same place I was when I was approached with the proclamation that Marriage Equality has been put on the back burner.  You might disagree that it has been, you might agree that it should be, you might be in the same place I was and want to say, “stop talking right now.”  I understand.

We can’t stop talking right now.  As the only media outlet dedicated to this GLBT community, we have got to keep talking.

Okay, I’ll say it: We have to “keep the conversation going.”

I don’t like what we say sometimes.  Did I want to read what Brett Stevens wrote about “The DFL’s Big Gay Farce” in the last issue?  That was rough.  But, it was not inaccurate.  If something presented as fact was untrue, I’ll publish a correction.  If it’s a conclusion or opinion you believe to be untrue, that’s different.  Conclusions are up for debate, but researched facts are facts.  We’re publishing all of the Letters to the Editor that we received in response to the commentary and you can see for yourself that the responses span the spectrum as far as what should happen next.  We’re not in agreement.  And this is why we’re going to keep talking.  Brett and I probably would not be on the same political float in a parade, but I appreciate and respect his perspectives.  He goes so far as to actually provoke the bear, or donkey in this case. I’d agree that that donkey needs some prodding.

And, he followed up that piece by presenting in this issue what a logical next step would be: Minnesota needs to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.  Read what he says, the piece may ease some of the tension as far as what can be done almost immediately to keep us moving toward Marriage Equality.

I remember what it was like when General Mills stood up against the amendment.  I remember the euphoria of Cheerios being on our side.  General Mills gave its reasons for voting no and they fall within the many that I listed earlier.  After General Mills opposed the amendment, it seemed easier for other corporations and groups to follow suit.  It blazed the trail, it took the heat.  Nobody will forget the socio-historical statement and what it did for this fight.  Now, I’d say we’re looking for our first trailblazer in this next step toward Marriage Equality, and whoever comes out swinging with the right research-driven message will get a groundswell of support. If the extremely well-attended OutFront Minnesota Equality & Justice Summit on December 1 is any indication, we’re ready to continue to move forward.

Because that’s what we want, right?  To move forward?

I want to congratulate and thank you all for this amazing year.  I wish you and yours the best over the holidays and through the new year.  Your readership and your advertising keep this platform going and I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring.

With thanks,

Andy

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