Why I’m Voting NO on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment

By Ellie Perleberg

My sexuality? It’s none of your business.

I’m not trying to be rude here, just honest. Whether I’m gay or straight or emotionally attached to a fictional character on a TV show I spend too much time watching – it does not matter. I’m writing from the perspective of a human being – it does not matter who I love. At our most basic level, I am a person who lives and breathes and loves and hurts just like you do.

Before you say I’m just biased because this might affect me: everyone is biased —everyone. There is no single unbiased truth, so there’s effectively no bias here, because it’s cancelled out by the bias that lies in the minds of those who think they are inherently more human because they are heterosexual.

When you read any arguments in favor of the Minnesota marriage amendment, I’m asking you to substitute the imaginary threatening gay person with someone you love most dearly. To further illustrate that point (aforementioned “my sexuality is none of your business” policy still withstanding), I’ll be speaking in this essay from a first-person perspective.

“Fact-checking” the commercials and advertisements supporting the Minnesota marriage amendment seems almost pointless, because both sides could argue their “facts” all day long, but I do want to clarify some things.

via I Plan To Vote NO [Image Description: A billowing rainbow flag in the shape of Minnesota is overlaid with the text “FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE, FOR ALL”]

1. The Vote Yes campaign implies that voting no will legalize gay marriage, which it won’t.

Voting no keeps the state constitution as-is…it’s on a technicality, sure, but the Vote Yes campaign is lying when they say that voting no constitutionally changes the definition of marriage. It does the exact opposite of that.

If you vote no, I’m not even lucky enough to gain basic rights—I’m just lucky enough to keep the hope alive that the conversation can continue and someday, maybe, I might have the right to marry whomever I might love.

2. There are no gay people in the Vote Yes commercials. As a matter of fact, here are hardly any gay people in the Vote No commercials.

Just because you can’t see us doesn’t mean we’re not real. Just because you’re scared of what you don’t understand doesn’t mean it’s really something to be feared. I shouldn’t have to say these things, I shouldn’t have to fight this fight, and I absolutely shouldn’t feel alienated because someday I might find a girl and fall in love with her.

3. Voting yes is not a solitary, personal act.

It causes hurt, frustration, distrust, hurt, and more hurt. This is wrong. This is not 1950. This is 2012, and it’s no time for bigotry, hate, ignorance, or judgement.

I don’t mean to generalize all the people who are planning to vote yes – I know some kind, wonderful people who’ve talked about voting yes and I know they’re still kind, wonderful people. But I want to beg them, please, realize that this part of the wonderful person you are…is actually practicing discrimination.

I’m sure all the other things about you are still as great as they were before I knew this about you, but I need you to realize that if I’m gay and I’m asking you to not deny me of my rights, then I’m still the same person as before you knew that about me, too. I’m asking you to vote no because supporting this amendment is you personally reaching out and hurting me, no matter how you might explain it away as a strictly personal decision.

I’ve encountered some people over the past few months asking me to stop being so upset about it and to simply respect their right to vote yes. As much as I’ve tried to see the logic in that, I just can’t. I can’t find one single reason I should have to respect your “right” to take my rights away from me. You’re taking rights away from yourself! Sure, maybe you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex, but what if you did? You should be allowed to, it’s as simple as that.

4. Gay marriage is no different, less than, or better than heterosexual marriage.

I do understand the confusion, because the very rhetoric used to discuss marriage equality is unequal. The fact that the distinction must be made works actively to destroy the notion that the two types of marriage are the same. The only thing that’s different is the gender of the person you’re choosing to spend your life with…and they are at their core a person, just like you and me, so it’s not really any different after all, is it?

I think comedian Liz Feldman explains it best: “It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage, or, as I like to call it, ‘marriage.’ Because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car, I didn’t gay park it.”

If personal pleading is not enough – if you’re my friend, part of my family, a neighbor, an acquaintance, whatever, and the idea of taking away my right to marry the person I love is not enough to sway you – I need you to recognize that the loss of rights to one person is a blow to human rights for all of us. It’s a fundamental right that you should not feel banned from being with the person you love. You should feel able to protect them and be protected with them under the law, whether they’re gay or straight, black or white, young or old… you and I deserve that right.

(Please, please, don’t let supporters of the Vote Yes campaign make you feel like you don’t deserve those things. Those people and ads and signs are wrong, you’re a person and you do deserve those things.)

In a less personal sense, it’s as simple as “the separation of church and state” — your religion should not influence the laws under which I live. Your religion belongs in your family and your house, and it doesn’t have any right to come near mine — just like my sexuality belongs to me and would never affect you.

Re-defining and limiting the constitution’s description of marriage (which is what you’re voting for if you’re voting yes) does not protect the “sanctity” of marriage. It is not a sacred act to ban marriage from people who are in love. It is a sacred institution because it’s a choice that you get to make with the person that you love, no matter who they may be.

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Ellie Perleberg is in some kind of gender studies student/unemployed young adult/silly TV & music blogger limbo in Up North, Minnesota. She’s constantly fighting the good fight for LGBT rights whether anybody wants to hear about it or not. She plans to learn kickboxing in the hopes that she’ll also learn to keep calm and yell less about social justice issues at inopportune times. She might just write some more angry folk songs instead.