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Letter: Letters include misinformation about freedom to marry

I am writing in response to letters to the editor regarding Rep. Jay McNamar’s vote on the freedom to marry bill. It was disappointing to find so much misinformation about both the campaign for the freedom to marry and the bill itself in those letters. Like all campaigns, yes, there were organizations making “robo calls” encouraging McNamar to vote yes. And yes, more people in 12A voted “yes” on the marriage amendment than “no.” However, Rep. McNamar never claimed he would vote based on the marriage amendment vote or on how many calls he received. He was always clear in his communications that about two things: that he intended to vote based on his legislative survey, and that he wanted to hear stories of families in his district who would be affected negatively or positively by the bill.

It is possible that earlier in his campaign he told people he would vote “no” if such a bill was ever in front of him – I cannot speak to the validity of one letter writer’s story. But, I do know that at the district DFL convention, where I was a delegate, when asked about gay marriage, Rep. McNamar noted he believed in equality for all. Throughout his campaign, he always portrayed himself as politician who would really listen to his constituents.

Rep. McNamar took the time to personally meet with my family to hear our story, for which I am grateful. During our meeting, he asked questions about my family and how the freedom to marry bill would affect us. He noted that he had met with families on both sides of the issue and, at the time of our meeting, was trying to understand how the bill would affect families in his district.

Ultimately, Rep. McNamar heard more stories showing the bill could positively affect the lives of people in his district than stories indicating that the bill could have negative effects, and he voted based on this feedback. Perhaps “my side” was more organized – but I have a hunch we may have been more convincing for another reason. Simply put, our right to marry won’t negatively affect anyone else in Minnesota. We don’t want to “erase moms and dads” and don’t expect our marriages to have any effect on other families whatsoever. We certainly aren’t interested in forcing someone who does not want to marry us to do so (and the bill itself explicitly states that no religious official will be forced to do so). We aren’t waiting to have more children as soon as we are permitted to legally marry – many of us already have children, and many others have decided this is not their wish. We also don’t expect that our right to marry will mean that children will be taught about homosexuality at school or that our values will be forced on others. Sure, we would like to have the more than 500 benefits that come with marriage – but those benefits are rarely the reason people decide to commit their lives to each other.

Marriage is about love and commitment, first and foremost. (For some, though not all, it is also about raising children together or worshipping together). In Minnesota, every heterosexual will still be able to marry and worship and raise his or her children in whatever way best fits his or her values. Minnesotans, you have nothing to fear. There is no reason to believe that another couple’s love and commitment will in any way degrade your own. Ultimately, the feedback Jay McNamar received about the bill from both sides must have made this clear to him. I believe it took courage to listen deeply to the stories of his constituents and to vote based on what he heard.