One year year from yesterday, Minnesota voters will decide whether to amend the Minnesota Constitution to ban thousands of current and future Minnesotans from getting married. If 29 other states are predictive, the odds are the marriage ban will be successful in the land of “Minnesota Nice” as well.
I attended a house party yesterday to raise money and hackles to defeat the amendment. It was at the home of friends who are better spouses and parents than I could ever hope to be. Trust me, self-appointed Family Defenders, my friends are your greatest allies in your mission to strengthen the institution of family, not your enemies. Family Defenders should be begging people like my friends to join the club.
Anyway, a communications pro for a group opposing the marriage ban spoke at the event about how to talk to our friends, family and neighbors about the issue. Based on message research from the Troglodyte 29, she advised not to lead the conversation by arguing about equalizing the financial benefits of marriage. According to the research, the idea that people in a committed relationship should receive equal health and pension benefits regardless of the gender of their partner has not been sufficiently compelling to the heterosexual masses who take such benefits for granted.
So rather than going all HR on your friends, they recommend an American values argument. Equality. Fairness. Justice. Civil rights. The notion that all Americans who love each other should have the freedom to marry.
That seems like it should be an easy argument to sell. After all, I know my patriotic friends have perfect recall of the “under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance. Given that, there’s a fighting chance they also might remember there are six subsequent words that speak to this issue. “…with liberty and justice for all.” “All,” which the dictionary says means “every,” “all kinds,” “all sorts.”
I feel silly stating the obvious here, but banning any Americans from marrying isn’t exactly consistent with our collective “liberty and justice for all” American value. Sometime in the not too near future, Americans are going to look back on these marriage ban amendments and be embarassed that something like this could happen in America, just as contemporary Americans are embarassed when they look back on Jim Crow laws.
With the polls showing Americans steadily moving toward support of gay marriage, and younger people especially supportive, it is only a matter of time before these embarassingly un-American marriage ban amendments start failing at the ballot box. How cool would it be if the tipping point was in Minnesota in 2012?