Letter from Minnesota: Dear friends and family…

A friend of TAMFS, Heather Ferguson, wrote this letter to her friends and family. Deeply moved, we share it with you:

Dear friends and family,

Since the late-night Saturday vote at the Minnesota Legislature that put a constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage on the Minnesota ballot in 2012, I have had to call up courage just to breathe.

I have been confronted these past 3 weeks as deeply as I can ever remember.

I was raised with a powerful faith in the ideals of our United States of America: the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; of liberty and justice for all. Sitting through legislative proceedings was a gut-wrenching experience (as many know from seeing media coverage, including http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/05/18/same-sex-amendment/).

Today I am feeling a grave violation of those promises.

You all know of, and many of you were there to witness, Annika’s and my wedding 20 years ago this year. Because you have journeyed with us through our lives, you understand that Annika, Josiah and Gabe are the greatest gifts, the greatest blessings I have been given.

I want to introduce you to my new hero, because right now, he can say what needs to be said better than I can. His name is John Kriesel, and he is a Republican legislator in Minnesota, whose story goes like this:

If this was 5, 6 years ago, I probably would have voted ‘yes.’ (in favor of banning same-sex marriage) ‘Cause I didn’t think about it. I just thought about my family. I thought about what affects my wife and kids and nothing else.

“Everything changed. I went to Iraq. I was in an incident. I nearly died. I remember laying there, looking down and seeing my legs mangled, and pretty much guaranteeing that I was done. I was a done deal. I thought that was where my life was going to end.

“And I remember thinking of my wife. And my kids. That’s what crossed my mind. And that’s what kept me fighting; the love I have for them.

“It woke me up. It changed me. Because of that, it’s made me think about this issue. And say, ‘You know what, what would I do without my wife?’ She makes me happy. Life is hard. We’re in a really tough time in our history. Happiness is so, so hard to find for people. So they find it, they find someone that makes them happy, and we want to take that person away. We want to say, ‘Oh no, you can be together, you can love that person, but you can’t marry them.’ You can’t marry them. That’s wrong.”

Rep. Kriesel led 4 Republicans to vote No against the constitutional amendment. And the sad truth is, a couple Democrats voted Yes for this initiative that hurts families like mine, while helping no one.

So we can’t rest easy. This is not partisan politics. This is about the well being of all families, and I urge you to stay informed by signing up for http://www.minnesotansunitedforallfamilies.com

In closing, let me just say that I’m trying to understand this in the way I do a big blizzard, where what you thought you’d be doing (or would rather be doing) stops and instead you go out and get to work shoveling, helping others in the process and then at least being grateful that Minnesota’s harsh climate has brought people together. Here, the work is talking to people both who believe in fairness and who are unsure, so that together we can have a deeper understanding about why this constitutional amendment is wrong for Minnesota.

If you are in Minnesota, or have loved ones here, let’s stay in touch about how to work together to defeat this. And whether you live here or elsewhere, please give as generously as you can to an organization I know personally and hold in the highest esteem:  http://www.outfront.org/donate. The link is titled “membership” — this is their standard donation form.

love — really, really, so much love to you for all you mean to us — throughout our lifetime, as well as at this very difficult time,

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