I cannot say that I feel profoundly hopeful today, because I don’t.
However, Megan told me a couple of weeks ago that I am an idealist, which I scoffed at. I feel deeply cynical and exasperated. She countered that I am wrong about that. Cynical people, she said, don’t keep trying to change others’ minds. They don’t believe people will change or develop empathy. She said that I am an idealist because I never stop trying.
So I’m a frustrated idealist, then. Not naive, not Pollyanna, but I guess I do buy into MLK’s idea that the “arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice” (for many issues). And I suppose that’s about as idealistic as it gets.
Last night, Minnesota’s GOP-controlled House passed the constitutional amendment that writes anti-LGBT discrimination into our constitution. This means it will go to the ballot next fall, which means 18 months of brutality as people who bully under the auspices of moral righteousness flood money and nastiness into our state.
We cannot stop that.
We can, as LGBT people and as allies, ask every person we know to vote no.
Last night I was at a very fun wedding. It was really obvious how well the personalities of the bride and groom were embedded in the ceremony, the poetry was gorgeous, and it was a terrific celebration of their relationship – and considering all the cheers and whooping in the crowded room, they truly were celebrated as a couple.
Because I knew what was going down at the capitol as we ate and drank and danced, it was sometimes hard to reconcile the dueling feelings of happiness and sadness that were at war in me.
Being at a wedding where everyone is really happy was, for me, laying plain what it was that the GOP in this state want to keep from us.
Yes, it’s about the rights, but that isn’t the core of what they want to exclude us from. The plain fact of it is that they do not want us to be celebrated or happy. They know something that I am really late in the game in understanding – that marriage is like a hidden room in a house that you think you know every inch of.
It is not a simple collection of rights (though it is that as well), it is an entrance into another way of being that is specifically characterized by how other people value your relationship, how other people come to celebrate your relationship, and how other people support your relationship. Because, despite the fact that not every marriage lasts, actually speaking your commitment to each other out loud and in public has a whole bunch of community support and acceptance attached to it.
The people who want to enshrine this amendment into our constitution know that. They know it’s awfully hard to be closeted when you’re married (public proclamations make it hard to hide a relationship). They know it makes reluctant families unable to ignore the relationship. Not only that, but a wedding pulls at the heartstrings and makes it possible for people who are not necessarily comfortable with LGBT people to see how much we love each other when they otherwise may never have access to that.
The anti-LGBT sponsors and supporters of this amendment know that, at the end of the day, acknowledging and celebrating LGBT relationships in the light of day results in people accepting us more. I’m not saying everyone suddenly slaps a rainbow sticker on their car, but people can and do evolve in their thinking.
So, yes, this can be about rights. It is about rights. And yet what it is really about to the GOP – what I think they are scared of most – is the open, public support and celebration of LGBT relationships.
And that, my friends, is bigotry. The people who have everything trying to control the minority and exploit the dominant group’s fears of said minority…that is bigotry.
I believe and hope Minnesotans are better than the people they elected.