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Voices from Minnesota

I spoke to so many people over the phone, last week.

At the end of one of my first conversations, a man told me no one had ever bothered to ask him what he thought about same-sex marriage. “I’ll need to have a long talk with my wife at the kitchen table tonight.” He thanked me as we said goodbye.

That conversation kept me going as the week wore on. How many more voters needed to really think about the Minnesota constitutional amendment before they voted?

I'm the first to admit that a lot of calls really never went anywhere. Like the one with the drunk man, who probably won't remember any of what we talked about. Or the one with the farm woman who, when I asked to speak to her husband told me cheerfully: “He’s out there. Somewhere.”

But so many Minnesotans were supportive.

There was the woman whose sister-in-law had convinced her that voting no on banning same-sex marriage was the right thing to do. Though she had gay friends, she did not want them to get married in her church, since it was against its doctrine. “But if their church wants to marry them, what business is it of mine? Shouldn’t they be allowed to be happy?”

There was the man who didn’t approve of gay marriage but was angry that folks were trying to legislate through the constitution. When I asked him if knew anyone who was gay, he told me, "I have sons who hang around a crowd with a lot of gay kids. Nice kids.” We talked for a little longer, and as we wound down to say goodbye, he said, “I don’t know what would happen if my sons were gay. But you know, you do want to love who your kids love.”

There were hateful calls too. The ones where I was told that sinful people won’t go to heaven; that marriage is about procreation, and what I was talking about was unnatural; the ones with palpable dislike and fear of homosexuality.

And then there was the retired pastor.

“I believe in marriage for healthy relationships,” he said.

I paused, unsure about where the conversation was going.

He went on to explain. “The bible tells us that God made man, and that God made woman to keep him company. It doesn’t say anything about getting married. Where does it say that two people who love each other shouldn’t?”

We talked for quite a while. He told me that there are so many falsehoods being spread around.

“People act out of fear," he said. "But you can’t decide things as important as this that way.”

“I wish that there were more people who think like you in this world,” I said.

“Oh, I can’t believe we are so few.”

He had replied with such warmth and such conviction, I was reassured. We are many, too.

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