June 2, 2011

Guest piece: Witnessing to nonviolence on the eve of a long struggle


Some of you know that here in Minnesota, the Republican-run legislature voted last month in May to place a question on next year's ballot that would define within the state's constitution that a marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The Human Rights Campaign is working with statewide organizations that advocate and lobby on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. No doubt many progressive faith communities will be involved, too.

But HRC's recruitment email included the sentence "...[We] have enough time to build the infrastructure needed to win – and that means recruiting throngs of foot soldiers to fight the amendment." [emphasis mine]

One local Friend, whom I'll simply refer to as Heather, cc'd me on her personal reply to HRC's National Field Director, Marty Rouse, whose name is attributed to the recruitment email.

Here's Heather's reply, with her permission.


Dear Marty,

Words can not express the gratitude I feel as a Minnesotan, knowing that HRC will help us accurately portray families headed by same-sex couples as loving, healthy, American, and deserving of the same legal protections that other families take for granted.

Your letter did however raise concern for me in one area. I can not abide the conceptualization of this as a "war." Even if "war" was declared on our families*, I do not agree to "fight." In my household, in my same-sex marriage-affirming faith community, there will be no "foot soldiers." There will be people earnestly engaged in non-violent resistance; there will be courage manifested in speaking truth to power; there will be "sweat-equity" invested in our democracy; there will be sacrifice and hard work and returning again and again to the belief that hate does not overcome hate -- only love can do that.

I ask you, on behalf of those of us who commit our lives to nonviolence, to please resist using the imagery of war to characterize the commitment I deeply believe that you and I share, to overcome the constitutional ban on gay marriage in Minnesota. We know the power of love, and I can not think of a better time to witness than this.


*which it was -- I understand -- the MN Representative we have come to know through an extended family member told us, the morning of the vote, that his constituents are like "young recruits before the Civil War, hounding him with the refrain, 'Just let us fight!!'"


naturalmom said...

Hey Liz, I was so sad to hear of this vote. It's just infuriating. I thought you might be ever so slightly heartened by the FB post of a straight friend of mine who is a Minnesotan. I had just read your previous post when I saw her FB status on May 22, but didn't think to share it with you until now:

"Psst. Minnesota Legislature. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. One day I believe you will be ashamed of your actions. In the meantime, you want a vote, you got a vote. Bring it."

And then in a little further down in a comment, she wrote:
"Where is the rapture when you need it? Apparently, I now have summer plans. I'm not letting this go through without a fight. It will be a calm, rational, compassionate fight, but make no mistake, I will fight this."

She uses the "fight" word (and would probably defend doing so), but it's always good to know you have allies among 40-something, middle class, straight moms. :o)

Holding your whole state in the Light...


Liz Opp said...

Stephanie, thanks for taking the time to write and for pointing me to your Facebook friend's comments.

Yes, I often think of the words that are wrongly attributed to Martin Luther King Jr (he said them but it wasn't he who authored them--I believe that distinction goes to another member of the clergy), about the arc of the moral universe...

I also often think, "Equality is coming and you don't have to like it." My hope is that I'm around long enough to see MORE equality, in terms of same-sex marriage, nondiscrimination acts against transgendered women and men, etc.

The last few things I'll say are:

1. I have ideas on how to get Minnesotan Quakers involved;

2. I have ideas on a different sort of message to get out there, one that will lift up some core Minnesotan values, like "Minnesota Nice";

3. One straight ally has set up a website to help show that gay marriage already exists and has in fact been around for decades. After all, marriage is about love, not about gender.

4. If you, your FB friend, or others want to follow what's going on, I suggest following the hashtag #noh8mn or @Outfrontmn on Twitter or on Facebook.

Thanks again for writing. Love will prevail!