Friday, May 10, 2013

Minnesota House Passes Marriage Equality Bill: Commentary from Various Sources

As expected, the Minnesota House did vote yesterday afternoon to advance the marriage equality legislation in that state. As David Badash notes at The New Civil Rights Movement today, the vote was 75 in favor to 59 against. 

For Truthdig, Tracy Bloom notes the irony of what's happening in Minnesota, where Republicans were recently confident that they could use an initiative to amend the state constitution targeting the gay community as a technique to bring GOP voters to the polls in 2012. The initiative backfired, despite its very heavy support by the Catholic bishops of the state, the Knights of Columbus, and the National Organization for Marriage, and in a mere six months' time, we've seen a dramatic turnaround placing the state on a course to be the first Midwestern state to adopt marriage equality through its legislature.

It's almost as if people have begun to resent the attempt of the Catholic bishops and these other groups to control secular law, and to make vicious use of targeted minorities as they do so, isn't it?

I listened to quite a few of the speeches in the Minnesota House yesterday as the debate was broadcast live, and I found many of them quite moving. What struck me over and over was the very clear dividing line between where Jesus's vision of the reign of God points for me as a Catholic, and where it doesn't point--about which I blogged yesterday. In the testimonies I heard one representative after another give, about widening the circle of love, including those on the margins of society, respecting and fostering human rights, I could clearly hear echoes of the gospels around which my life of faith as a Catholic is centered.

In the testimonies of those opposed to the bill, I heard, frankly, a great deal of incoherence, bigotry, and outright false witness. One Republican representative from the district represented in the federal Senate by Ms. Bachmann said that marriage equality will abolish gender in Minnesota, will sever ties between parents and their biological children, and will harm children by forcing them to choose between a mother and a father.

Thankfully, not merely sanity and truth but the better angels of our democratic culture prevailed in the vote, and the bill passed the House and will now move to the Senate. As Terry Weldon notes at Queering the Church today, this happened in no small part because many people of faith, including many Catholics, have worked very hard in the state of Minnesota to see the circle of love, justice, and inclusion widened to include gay citizens of the state and their families. 

As Terry also notes, among those working very hard to this end has been Michael Bayly of the Wild Reed and Progressive Catholic Voices blog. At his Wild Reed site today, Michael notes that he provided testimony on behalf of the bill in hearings in March, and he publishes two of the inspiring statements given by representatives yesterday--one by Rep. Susan Allen, who has Ojibwe roots, and another by Rep. Rena Moran, who is African-American.

I heard both speeches live, and agree with Michael that they were extraordinary. Both appeal to the better angels of our nature by noting that American democracy has always been and remains an unfinished project, which benefits from drawing the circle wider and permitting more and more citizens who have been relegated to the margins to share their gifts with all of us, for the benefit of all of us.

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