It’s become quite popular for opponents of the freedom to marry to introduce their fear of the B-word into the discussion, while in some progressive circles, discussing opponents’ perceived bigotry overshadowed any celebration of this week’s tremendous victory in the bipartisan vote to legalize same-sex marriage.
This seems like an approach contrived to heighten divisiveness on both sides, rather than to heal and unite the state so that we can come together and work on some other very serious issues facing us as Minnesotans.
We doubt either side plans to deliberately chafe the body politic, however symbiotic the friction may seem at times.
After the vote, the editorial board of the New Ulm Journal concluded in Gay marriage vote:
Some fear that those who continue to oppose same-sex marriage will be branded as “bigots.” Name calling certainly can be a problem with as volatile an issue as this, and both sides are guilty of it.
The debate in the House Thursday was remarkable for its respectful tone. Proponents and opponents alike spoke their pieces calmly, with obvious emotion, but with respect for each other and their differing opinions.
We hope people throughout the state can do the same. We have to, if we want to remain a civil society.
The “rhetorical situation” (as a comp instructor might say) that the NUJ editors describe is neatly encapsulated deep in a story published in Huckle Media’s southern Minnesota papers. Buried in Steele County Representatives’ ‘no’ votes don’t derail passage of same-sex marriage bill, there’s this:
[Representative Patti Fritz’s] track record regarding altering the state’s constitution is clear: She doesn’t like messing with it. She also voted against last fall’s proposed constitutional amendment that would’ve banned gay marriage.
And while many said on the Faribault Daily News Facebook page this week that they would like to see Fritz support same-sex marriage, none spoke louder than Liz Fritz, a niece of Rep. Fritz’s who is gay.
On Thursday, Liz Fritz said she was hurt by her aunt’s vote but that Patti is “still my aunt and I love her.” Rep. Fritz said her niece has never talked to her about her sexual orientation, but that she would be open to the conversation.
Still, she said she wouldn’t change her vote.
“I make up my own mind,” Fritz said. “But I love her as much as she loves me. We’re a very loving and supporting family, the Fritz’s, and we’ve been through a lot.”
Not all families with LGBT members are so loving, nor are their straight relatives as unbending. Take Representative Shannon Savick, in the same article:
DFL Rep. Shannon Savick, whose district includes Blooming Prairie, voted for the bill. She told the Associated Press on Tuesday that she would vote for the bill, even if it costs her re-election in 2014. She said her brother is gay, and she doesn’t see why he shouldn’t marry the person he loves.
“It could cost me the election. I represent a very conservative area. I hope I do enough good in other areas that they will overlook that,” said Savick, a first-term representative who defeated incumbent Rich Murray by 653 votes last November.
Bluestem hopes that Fritz and her niece will sit down and have that talk, and that our readers who favor marriage equality will be there for rural legislators like Savick (and Andrew Falk, Tim Faust, Paul Marquart, Jay McNamar, John Persell, and Joe Radinovich) who took the hard votes.
Photo: Jubilation at the capital after the House vote.