In prior elections, we have endorsed some Republican candidates who supported gay equality. But even for those candidates who did not support our equality positions immediately, we opened lines of communications and made them aware that there were people in the Republican Party that supported gay equality and felt that the Party had to move on this issue. They continue to work with us within the party to help advance equality for the GLBT community.
2.) How do you feel the fight for marriage equality is progressing?
KS: I prefer to refer to the pursuit of marriage equality is an evolving conversation that is showing some very positive signs of advancement, rather than as a “fight.” With the changing demographics in both parties, we are starting to see encouraging trends nationwide. Even though we have seen many states exercise a knee-jerk reaction to the possibility of same-sex marriage by implementing constitutional bans, in some of those states, even if same-sex marriage was not necessarily the end result, we began to see passage of equivalent contractual statuses like civil unions, enhanced domestic partnerships, and reciprocal beneficiaries. This is something we wouldn’t even have thought possible 20-30 years ago. Any civil rights movement has been met with opposition from people who are not comfortable with large scale societal changes, are fearful of the unknown, or just cannot seem to reconcile the issue with their personal and religious beliefs. The same can be argued about same-sex marriage. Though some people may disagree with that categorization, the debate hinges on whether your premise is we are ‘born this way’ versus ‘recruited’ or ‘chose the lifestyle’. The important thing to keep in mind here is that the younger generations are more comfortable with the GLBT community as many of them have gay friends and family members or know someone who has a gay family member. I attribute much of this improvement to the popularity and ease of social media outlets that help connect people and allow them access to information sharing like never before. Even in my personal conversations with legislators while lobbying, exposure to the issues facing our community and the ability to research topics easily, has softened their positions or changed their views on some issues. National polls have been showing that the split between Pro and Con for same-sex marriage is greatly generational. Even within the Republican Party there is a growing swell of support as younger people are getting involved in politics and more and more Republicans are willing to stand up and question whether this is something that Republicans, the original defenders of individual liberty, should be limiting for a small group of their community. This year, LCR MN co-hosted a hospitality suite at the state GOP convention and invited delegates to attend and have open discussions about marriage equality and the amendment. We had a much larger turnout than expected. It’s a story you probably wouldn’t have read about anywhere, but it is definitely noteworthy. Many Republican groups like College Republicans, Young Republicans, several conservative groups, and many more, have been hosting talks on the very issue. Sentiment and opinions are changing.
3.) What’s your stance on the marriage amendment?
KS: MN LCR is against the marriage amendment. We are a coalition member of the official “Vote No” campaign, Minnesotans United for All Families, and have helped to secure Republican representation on the board of the campaign. We continue to speak with Republicans and conservative-minded GLBT friends regarding the conservative case for marriage equality as well as reminding people of how this amendment contradicts our core conservative values. The amendment promotes big government by denying the freedom to marry to a targeted group of individuals, interferes with religious freedom, and undermines family values. We believe in strong marriages and strong families for everyone. We maintain that the constitution has never been used to encapsulate socially divisive issues.