On Monday night, Oct. 8, a vigil will be held in front of the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul in support of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Minnesotans — except the participants are not LGBT. Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights is organizing heterosexuals throughout the country to “come out” in support of their LGBT friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers. The organizers are planning on tens of thousands of participants throughout the country in 30 cities including St. Paul and Duluth in Minnesota.
Seven Straight Nights is a joint project of Soulforce, a group dedicated to ending spiritual violence against LGBT people, and Atticus Circle, a group of straight folks working for relationship rights for same-sex couples.
David Weiss, organizer for the St. Paul vigil says, “We vigil in front of the Governor’s mansion NOT as an attack on Governor Pawlenty or his personal political views, but because his is the “state home” – the place in MN where the personal and the political intersect symbolically … as they do every day for LGBT persons in stark reality.”
Katie Higgins, a staff member for Soulforce Q Young Adults, a youth program within Soulforce, is helping organize the St. Paul event. A recent transplant from the southeastern United States, she says that Minnesota’s climate towards LGBT people has been empowering, but there are still gains to be made. “Living in Minnesota has allowed me to experience the greatest sense of safety that I’ve ever felt on a day to day basis,” said Higgins. “The Twin Cities are clearly welcoming communities yet when my thoughts move beyond my immediate surroundings and circumstance, I begin to think about having a family, getting married to a woman — very basic things — it becomes obvious that I live in a state that does not honor nor value what I can bring to a committed relationship.”
Higgins says that organizing allies is vital to making Minnesota an even more inclusive place. “Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights is not only an opportunity for allies to stand up for their LGBT friends, family and peers, in a very conspicuous manner but it is an opportunity for allies to meet one another and organize,” she said. “The LGBT community cannot do this alone.”
Weiss says that the vigil will give allies to the LGBT community a voice. “It’s an opportunity for allies to step forward “on their own” so to speak, and say, ‘Equal rights for LGBT persons matter to me,” he said. “Regardless of how much attention this gets in the media, it is an empowering thing to say these words — and back them up with physical presence.”
Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, will be speaking at the vigil. Mayors R.T. Rybak and Chris Coleman, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty have been invited to attend.
The vigil will take place in front of the Governor’s Mansion on Monday, October 8, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.