Marriage amendment opponents 're-energize'With just more than two weeks remaining before the Nov. 6 election, locals opposed to the marriage amendment on the ballot took the opportunity Tuesday to “re-energize” in their efforts to defeat the measure.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
With just more than two weeks remaining before the Nov. 6 election, locals opposed to the marriage amendment on the ballot took the opportunity Tuesday to “re-energize” in their efforts to defeat the measure.
A public forum co-sponsored by the Red Wing Human Rights Commission and Red Wing Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays called “Why I Am Voting No on the Marriage Amendment” was attended mainly by opponents of the proposed state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. Presenters acknowledged that they were in large part “preaching to the choir” when talking to the roughly 30 attendees, but “it’s about getting re-energized for these last weeks,” Rep. Tim Kelly said.
Kelly was one of a handful of Republicans to vote against the amendment when it came before the state Legislature. At Tuesday’s forum at First Lutheran Church, a video of his statement from a vote in May 2011 was played for the audience.
“In thinking of this issue I can't help but feel that this is an assault on personal freedom and choice,” he said in the speech.
Five other panelists also talked about their rationales for planning to vote against the amendment, which would effectively ban gay marriage. Same-sex marriage already is illegal in Minnesota, but putting a provision in the Constitution would make that more difficult to change.
“Thinking back to how much my wife means to me and my kids — I would never want to take that away from someone else,” said state Rep. John Kriesel of Cottage Grove, another Republican who voted against the amendment.
Red Wing resident Paul Christenson, who is active in the faith community, discussed opposing the amendment from a religious perspective. Among other points, he encouraged people to focus on the universal equality of people in Christianity rather than on exclusion.
Lori Wilfahrt’s son Andrew served in the Army and was killed in Afghanistan in 2011. He was gay, and she said she is opposing the amendment because of him.
“It often struck us that he died protecting a freedom he himself did not have,” she said of herself and her husband Jeff.
Knowing Andrew has encouraged many of the Wilfahrts’ friends and family to get involved in the election in ways they haven’t before, such as phone banking, volunteering and putting up lawn signs, she said.
Kriesel said he believes Minnesota has a “good chance” of defeating the amendment because people and society have changed and are more open.
Rochester City Council member Michael Wojcik said that societal change can mean communities or states that have laws such as those restricting same-sex marriage might be in trouble when it comes to recruiting and retaining talented individuals.
“We need to have a climate that’s welcoming,” he said. Excluding people or making life difficult for some people hurts the economy, he argued. “This is about our competitiveness as a state.”
Wojcik encouraged people to have one-on-one conversations with people who might be undecided in the last weeks before the election.
“Every vote’s going to matter on this,” he said.