By: Shannon Ralph
Could you be friends with someone who votes yes in November to the Minnesota Marriage Amendment?
This is a question a friend of mine posted on Facebook recently. This particular friend is a lesbian in a long-term relationship. She is an active member of the Democratic Party. She is going to be representing Minnesota at the Democratic National Convention this September in Charlotte, NC. She runs with a decidedly liberal crowd. When I first saw her question posted, I thought that I could easily predict how her Facebook friends would answer this question. I expected a series of tirades against Republicans, religious institutions, and everyday Minnesotans who are working hard to enshrine discrimination into our state constitution. I expected a resounding, “Hell no!” But I was wrong.
Rather, I was assaulted with a liberal cry of “Why not?” Her friends implored her to “take the long view” and “be respectful of others’ opinions” and to “listen to discussion” and not arbitrarily make up her mind about people based on “fears or stereotypes.” One person even told her “You’re better than that.”
What the fuck?!?
These are progressive liberals?? I was dumbfounded. These are the people (both GLBT and allied supporters) who we are counting on to help lead the GLBT community to equal rights under the law. Equal repect. Equal opportunity. Equal value. Are we liberals so concerned about offending people these days that we are no longer capable of standing up for ourselves? Have we become that meek and impotent and ineffectual? Suddenly, I felt pretty damn scared for the state of my state.
What people do not seem to understand is that this issue is not a simple difference of opinion. This is not an argument about which is better—The Bachelorette or Big Brother. This is not you liking chocolate and me liking vanilla. This is my life people are voting on. My family. My value as a human being. This country is a democracy—and a freaking amazing one, at that—but when in history have American rights been up for popular vote? Rights are not a popularity contest. That’s why they are called rights and not “rewards for people who agree with us.” How could I possibly be friends with someone who places so little value on everything I hold dear? By voting yes, people are essentially saying, “Your family—your wife, your daughter, your two sons, your dog, your home, your mortgage, the taxes you pay, the hours you spend doing 3rd grade homework, the bedtime stories you read every night, your carpooling to choir practice and Girl Scouts, and everything else you do that makes you a family—does not have as much value as my family. Your family is somehow lesser than mine.” How could the person who feels that way be my friend? How could that be possible?
We may be acquaintances. We may be coworkers. We may be neighbors. I would certainly be civil. I would not be blatantly rude. I would try my best not to disrespect that person. But would we be friends? No way. I do not need to fill my life—and subsequently, the lives of my young children—with people who have so little regard for everything that makes me who I am. I hope that my children will one day grow up to surround themselves with people who love them and support them and respect them and uplift them. Why would I surround them with any less when they are in my care?
If you vote yes in November, please be assured that you are no friend of mine. I am not now, nor will I ever be, “better than that.”