The 2008 national elections and debates hint that the discussion literally is beginning to change when it comes to fairness and equality for same-sex couples and their families. Unlike 2004, when a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage became a significant social issue, and led to a very high turnout among conservative voters, the current tone of discussion about same-sex couples is more neutral if not positive.
In Barack Obama’s Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech, he said, “I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.”
Even Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice President, agreed in a recent debate that same-sex couples deserve equal rights to married couples—even if not full marriage equality.
This is a significant attitude shift that we cannot ignore. More than ever, casting your vote on Election Day is critical to the future of same-sex couples. It’s important that our local and national policymakers hear from us about how most Minnesotans want to live in a fair state.
A 2006 poll sponsored by Equality Minnesota discovered that nearly eight out of ten Minnesotans said government should treat people no differently because of their sexual orientation. The survey also found that almost 70 percent of Minnesotans agreed: “Gays and lesbians should have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.”
Project 515 is poised to carry this message of tolerance, fairness, and equality to state legislators during the 2009 legislative session. But our success starts with you and your willingness to let your local candidates know fairness is important to you.
Over the remaining days of the election season, talk to your candidates, and take time to learn their positions on this and other issues important to you. Then, practice the most important right all Minnesotans currently share: vote.
For more information about candidates and how to vote, visit these nonpartisan organizations online:
• Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office
• Minnesota League of Women Voters
You can help elect state officials who value Minnesota’s same-sex couples. We have many opportunities in the Minnesota House, for example, to elect candidates who believe fairness and equality should be our focus.
We are in a great place to put supportive elected officials into positions where they not only will sponsor legislation that treats same-sex couples fairly under Minnesota law, but also will see that such legislation gets through both chambers and onto the Governor’s desk.
Help Project 515 help your same-sex family. Be sure to vote, and encourage your friends to do the same on November 4.
Laura Smidzik is Executive Director of Project 515. Help Project 515 work for equality by telling us your story, or by donating your time or money. Go to www.project515.org.