Earlier this month, Franni and I celebrated another wedding anniversary. We’ve been married for 37 years — many of them happy.
I love that joke. But I love Franni even more. Being married to her is the best thing that ever happened to me.
And I’ve never understood why we would want to deny all the joys — and the challenges — of marriage to anyone. Which is why I think any loving, committed couple — gay or straight — should be able to get married.
It really is that simple for me. But it wasn’t for my Dad.
More than four decades ago, when I called to tell him that I’d met a special girl named Franni, I warned my Dad, with a little trepidation, that she wasn’t Jewish.
“Well,” he responded, “just as long as she isn’t a guy!”
I knew he was kidding, but he was kind of kidding on the square. My Dad wasn’t closed-minded. He just grew up in a different time.
The truth is that gay and lesbian Americans have always been part of our communities. But over the course of the last generation, more and more of them have felt comfortable being truly honest about who they are. And, too slowly but very surely, it’s changing our country for the better.
George F. Will once noted that, to his daughter, finding out that a friend was gay was roughly as interesting as finding out that he or she was left-handed.
To me, it’s slightly more interesting. But I’m 61. My kids just could not care less that someone lives their life a little differently than they do. And I’m confident that my grandkids are going to grow up in a country where people who love each other can get married, no matter who they are.
In fact, when they look back at our generation, I think they’re going to wonder why this was ever such a big deal. They’re going to wonder why people spent so much time, energy, and money fighting for constitutional amendments to limit the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. And they’re definitely going to wonder how on earth so many of those amendments got passed.
I want them to remember us not as the last generation to attack our fellow citizens’ individual and religious freedoms, but rather as the first one to defend the right to marry — for everyone. And, as a Minnesotan, I want future generations to remember my state not as the latest to pass an anti-marriage amendment to its constitution, but rather as the first to defeat such a hurtful measure.
That’s what’s at stake this November as Minnesota prepares to go to the polls. National anti-gay groups are spending a lot of money trying to get this divisive amendment passed. Our side is countering with a grassroots effort — one that includes Democrats and Republicans, labor and business groups, civil rights organizations and hundreds of religious communities — to defeat it.
And with just a few weeks to go, polls show that it’s tied. So what we do in the next few weeks will determine what happens on Election Day.
This vote obviously matters a lot to our gay and lesbian friends, neighbors and family members here in Minnesota — the ones who, if this amendment passes, would be told that they just aren’t worthy of the same rights as everyone else.
And it matters to all Minnesotans, because we care about what kind of state we live in. We’re proud to be a welcoming and inclusive place, and we’re worried that this amendment could destroy that reputation.
That’s why so many people have been knocking on doors and phone banking against the amendment — and why a lot of wedding invitations in our state these days are asking guests to contribute to the Vote No effort in lieu of a gift.
But, really, this should matter to everyone who sees the direction history is taking and wants to do our kids and grandkids proud by our own actions. That’s why, even though my dad grew up in a different time than I did, I can’t imagine he’d vote for this amendment.
So if you’re a Minnesotan, please vote no. If you know Minnesotans, please tell them why voting no is so important. And if you’re just a person who cares about treating other people as you would want to be treated — a person who believes that love is love and that all of us deserve to have our love respected — please visit mnunited.org to find out how you can help.