Friday, April 18, 2008

OutFront Minnesota's 2008 Lobby Day

Today was Outfront Minnesota’s annual Lobby Day at the Minnesota State Capitol.

As in previous years, I and others from CPCSM and Catholic Rainbow Parents tabled with the Faith, Family, Fairness Alliance, and proudly represented Catholics in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.

About 1,300 people gathered for Lobby Day’s noon rally, at which OutFront Minnesota Public Policy Director Monica Meyer welcomed those in attendance and noted that: “We have a really powerful voice this coming year. This is really our chance to think and hope and dream of a better state. This is also our chance as GLBT people and allies to really think about what we want our movement to look like in the years to come.”

As you can see from the following photographs, Lobby Day 2008 was a very colorful and spirited event!

Above: Minnesota political leaders who spoke in support of LGBT rights included Senator Scott Dibble (left), State Representative Neva Walker (at podium), and State Representative Karen Clark (fourth from left).

Above: As in previous years it was incredibly heartening to see the great number of young people present at Lobby Day. One student was wearing a sweater with the words: “Gay? That’s fine by me” – which really says it all about the younger generation’s perspective on homosexuality and, by extension, gay marriage.

I’ve long maintained that the reason some older folks in our society are hell-bent on passing legislation to ban same-gender marriage, civil unions, and even domestic partnerships is that they know that if they don’t do it now it simply will never get done. It’s their last chance, really, as the vast majority of the next generation simply have no problem with such issues. Indeed, they’re viewed as non-issues!

Above: Certainly the most color-coordinated group present at this year’s Lobby Day was Project 515.

Launched in October 2007, Project 515 works to ensure that same gender couples and their families have equal rights and considerations under Minnesota law. The organization envisions a world of equalty where “all families are equally valued and respected under the law and in their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities.”

And the significance of “515”? Well, the 2006 Equality of Minnesota statewide survey revealed that “a significant gap exists between the fairness Minnesotans value and what actually occurs under Minnesota law,” say the founders of Project 515. “Nearly eight out of ten Minnesotans said they think government should treat people no differently because of their sexual orientation, and seven out of ten Minnesotans said they believe ‘gays and lesbians should have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.’ Yet at least 515 Minnesota laws treat gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships unfairly and unequally.”

Accordingly, Project 515 is committed to changing the debate around long-term same-gender relationships, primarily by identifying the 515 Minnesota laws that contribute to the unfairness same-gender couples and their families experience in Minnesota.

For some examples of unfair and unequal treatment embedded in Minnesota law, view this PDF file on the Project 515 website.

Above: Some of the wonderful folks from P-FLAG Twin Cities, including, at center, my dear friend Deb LeMay, co-founder with her husband, Bill, of Catholic Rainbow Parents.

Above: My friends Phil and Randi Reitan with Daniel Karslake, director of the award-winning documentary film, For the Bible Tells Me So.

Above: Members of the Duluth MN/Superior WI chapter of the Bayard Rustin Commemorative Alliance.

Above: I love this banner!

Above: At one point during the noon rally, Minnesota religious leaders supportive of LGBT rights were invited onto the steps of the Capitol. Sadly, though not surprisingly, there was a total lack of Roman Catholic clergy who came forward. Still, at least one supportive priest I know was present in the crowd - and he was even wearing his Roman collar!

Above: Students from Maple Grove Senior High School, who have courageously taken legal steps to assure that their school’s LGBT student group, Straights and Gays for Equality (SAGE), is provided the same support and resources that other school groups receive.

For an October 2007 Minnesota Monitor story about this issue, click here.

Above: With my friends Deb and Phyllis.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Outfront Minnesota’s 2007 Lobby Day
Getting the Word Out
The Changing Face of “Traditional Marriage”
The Real Gay Agenda
Naming and Confronting Bigotry
Love is Love
On Civil Unions and Christian Tradition
Separate is Not Equal
Mainstream Voice of “Dear Abby” Supports Gay Marriage
New Studies: Gay Couples as Committed as Straight Couples
The Many Manifestations of God’s Loving Embrace
Good News from Minnesota

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