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home : readerswrite : onyourmind February 5, 2016

Conversation or silence?
My fear is that delegating marriage equality to the realm of "further conversation" is the same as inaction-a direct route to silence and subterfuge.
by Linda Slattengren


I am a mother of three great, adult children. My daughter and my oldest son both married after college and have celebrated their 10-year anniversaries. Their brother has been in a committed same-sex relationship with his partner for the same amount of time, but without the recognition and benefits of marriage. Our family longs to be able to celebrate and embrace with joy their love and commitment and we have waited patiently for Minnesota to act on marriage equality.

Women were the voting demographic that altered the course of this last election. Women saw in the national and Minnesota state campaigns the issues that are important to us, including marriage equality. We voted for candidates who support and will work for those issues when elected.

I, like many of you, participated in candidate campaign work, from phone banks to door knocks, and I, with thousands of others, worked to defeat the amendments on the 2012 ballot. "Let the people of Minnesota decide" was the reasoning-and the citizens of Minnesota did decide in support of same-sex marriage.

Now some of the newly elected officeholders consider the defeat of the marriage amendment as lacking in mandate. Their view is that the defeat of the amendment was focused on the protection of the Constitution and that the next step of actually seeking marriage equality represents an aberrant effort by a few liberal constituencies. The other fall-back response is that now is the time to merely "continue the conversation." I am a mother of three great, adult children. My daughter and my oldest son both married after college and have celebrated their 10-year anniversaries. Their brother has been in a committed same-sex relationship with his partner for the same amount of time, but without the recognition and benefits of marriage. Our family longs to be able to celebrate and embrace with joy their love and commitment and we have waited patiently for Minnesota to act on marriage equality.

Women were the voting demographic that altered the course of this last election. Women saw in the national and Minnesota state campaigns the issues that are important to us, including marriage equality. We voted for candidates who support and will work for those issues when elected.

I, like many of you, participated in candidate campaign work, from phone banks to door knocks, and I, with thousands of others, worked to defeat the amendments on the 2012 ballot. "Let the people of Minnesota decide" was the reasoning-and the citizens of Minnesota did decide in support of same-sex marriage.

Now some of the newly elected officeholders consider the defeat of the marriage amendment as lacking in mandate. Their view is that the defeat of the amendment was focused on the protection of the Constitution and that the next step of actually seeking marriage equality represents an aberrant effort by a few liberal constituencies. The other fall-back response is that now is the time to merely "continue the conversation."

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My fear is that delegating marriage equality to the realm of "further conversation" is the same as inaction-a direct route to silence and subterfuge.

How long can we as a state procrastinate on equal rights? Human rights must be a priority for 2013-not to be weighed against, but rather balanced with other priorities.

I am both heartbroken and angered by a political reticence to move forward on equality of marriage and by any attempt to neutralize the successful defeat of the constitutional amendment and its electoral voice of support for same-sex couples and families.

My protective maternal energies flare in defense of my family and I quickly reflect on all those who bravely dedicated hours in phone banks or at doors. Thousands of conversations rendered the caller vulnerable in the sharing of personal stories of being gay or speaking for rights of family members. Too many endured the sharp barbs of hurtful rejection in some of those conversations.

My family and friends would deem it totally unacceptable if the political agenda calls for patience, relegating equal rights to the back burner of the "important" political agenda. In a worst case scenario, the right of same-sex couples to marry will be lost in the smokescreen of "higher priorities."

The underlying meaning of the word patience is suffering. There has been enough suffering. Now is the time for action.
Linda Slattengren lives in St. Paul.

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