Rochester believes in the equality of our LGBT Community.

A year ago Rochester overwhelmingly passed an ordinance creating a domestic partner registry for same or opposite sex couples.  While largely symbolic, this reaffirmed that we want a community that is tolerant to all people.  Now the state is discussing constitutionally hurting this constituency.  I have enough empathy to not want to hurt those that I serve.I said at the time we passed our ordinance that the LGBT community’s contributions are treasured by our largest employers, Mayo and IBM.  The organizations get tremendous contributions from individuals who are members of the LGBT community.  We do not want to do anything that makes Rochester or Minnesota less desirable to this phenomenal talent.  As a business owner, I want to be clear that this is an anti-business proposition.  As a human, I want to be clear that this is a hateful proposition.  As a pragmatist, this is a proposition that offers no benefits to Minnesota. Rather this would serve to codify intolerance.  This is big government at its worst.

I fundamentally disagree with the notion the the rights of people should be put to a popular vote.  I don’t know what the result of this vote would be, but it would probably be close.  50 years ago an initiative to ban interracial marriage would have passed in Minnesota by a large margin.  That would have been shamefully wrong, just as this would be.

I could go on, but instead I wanted to share a note from one of my constituents,


Both the house and senate will likely vote soon on a bill to introduce a marriage amendment outlawing same-sex marriage in MN. It is not possible for the governor to veto this. The amendment will be put to forward to voters. We’ll likely see an outcome like in California. Proponents will convince voters that voting No is a vote to legalize same-sex marriage. This will generate a huge voter turn out from the far right, which will also be bad for other measures that social conservatives are likley to add to the ballot.

Please, if you could take some time to write and/or call Senator Carla Nelson ( or your senator and representative. Tell them how this would hurt our community. Also spread the word around the community, and ask others to help spread the word. Unless there is a dramatic outpouring, I don’t think we’ll be able to influence this.

To those of you who have already written, or that I know will, I send this to you for the references that you might also use in talking with your neighbors.

Fundamentally, this puts the legal status of families and  partnerships up to a popular vote. Please don’t let people vote on the legitimacy of my family. My family doesn’t yet have full civil rights in MN, but this action will definitely slam the door on that. This is an action to further invalidate, alienate and discriminate against gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Minnesota.

This sort of societal alienation is damaging: See “The Social Environment and Suicide Attempts By Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth” . The suicide rate for Gay, Lesbian  youth was found to 42% greater ( 57% for bisexual youth) in non-supportive communities than in supportive communities (that had a larger proportion of GLBT families, Gay-straight alliances, and anti-bullying school policies that specifically protected GLBT youth).

After watching the hearings, I gather that the main points of the proponents seem to be two-fold:

1. Same-sex parenting hurts children, it detaches children from their biological parents. They are trying to strike fear into people that same-sex marriage is going to harm children.

2. Redefining marriage, by allowing same-sex marriage is equivalent to introducing “no-fault” divorce which destroyed the American family, causing divorce rates to skyrocket and children to suffer.

Example Proponents arguments (taken from Jennifer Roback Morse’s and Archbishop John Quinn’s testimony):

Same-sex marriage redefines parenthood because:

  • marriage attaches children to their biological parents and both same-sex parents can’t be bioloigically related to their child.
  • same-sex marriage becomes a vehicle for detaching children from one of their biological parents.
  • Same-sex parenting, deprives children of a relationship with their biological parents
  • Children raised in same-sex households are hurt because they do not have both mother and father

The marriage amendment does not do this. Adoption laws do this. If they were interested in only allowing children to be raised ONLY by their biological parents they would ban foster parenting, adoption, sperm banks, egg donation, surogacy. Divorce does this: if they want to protect marriage they would focus on banning divorce NOT preventing more people from becoming married. Of course the woman testifying was an adoptive mother and foster mother, but she stated that was an extreme case… she should be the exception.
Children in same-sex households are not hurt ( And  I’m sure there are studies showing the benefit of stable family life. Between 8 and 10 million children  in the US are raised in same-sex households. Allowing marriage between their parents could perhaps strengthen the stability of their families.
The claims made by proponents indicate that this legislation will not stop here but will follow to take away MN laws which allow for second-parent adoption and adoption by people who are openly gay/lesbian/bisexual.
Aside from that, the notion that Laura and I marrying would impel the institution of marriage to crumble and others to get a divorce is  beyond ridiculous.

I am deeply afraid for our state, our community and the chilling effect this legislation will have on the GLBT community.  We’ve been working so hard to foster a more open and welcoming community, where people are not longer afraid to come out. Where ALL families are celebrated and protected. This is a terrible blow to that.



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