Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Out and About – May 2011

May has definitely been a momentous month – a month of many challenging changes and developments.

At the State Capitol, in both the Senate and the House, a majority of legislators voted to allow the citizens of Minnesota to decide whether to limit in the state constitution civil marriage to heterosexual couples. The controversial "marriage amendment" will be on the ballot of the November 2012 elections.

In response to this development, Catholics for Marriage Equality MN undertook a number of pro-active measures – including maintaining a presence at the Capitol during both the Senate and House deliberations and vote on the amendment. In the picture above, for instance, I'm holding the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN banner and being interviewed by Fox 9 News. Holding the other end of the banner is my friend Mary Lynn Murphy, co-founder with her husband, Mike, and a number of other Catholic parents, of Catholic Rainbow Parents.

The month of May also saw a number of work-related and personal changes. I applied for and was offered a part-time position as site coordinator with a local Meal-on-Wheels program. I take up this position next Monday. I'll still, of course, be working with CPCSM, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform and Catholics for Marriage Equality MN. On a personal note, I chose to end my nine-month-long dating relationship with Doug – for reasons which, I'm sure you'll understand, I won't be discussing here.

On May 1 filming began for Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's "video project." This particular initiative is modeled on the It Gets Better Project and involves the establishment of a YouTube channel on which a number of short but powerful "video vignettes" will be available for viewing. These videos will feature Catholic gay couples and parents of gay people sharing their stories and explaining why as Catholics they support marriage equality.

Above: My friends Brent and Lisa, parents of a gay son, share their story. To read their letter to Rep. Patti Fritz, click here.

Right: My friend Michael provides the voice-over for the videos.

Above: Also featured in Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's video project is State Senator Scott Dibble and his husband Richard Leyva. The project's producer, Mary Kay Orman, is at right interviewing the couple, while filmmaker Aleshia Mueller operates the camera.

For Nick Halter's Southwest Journal story on Scott Dibble and his stand against the efforts to ban civil marriage rights for same-sex couples, click here.

Above: Richard and Scott.

Above: On May 2 Catholics for Marriage Equality MN hosted an educational and organizing event in Columbia Heights, MN.

Entitled "A Catholic Case in Support of Same-Sex Civil Marriage," the event featured three speakers addressing the legal, psycho-social and theological meaning and implications of same-sex marriage. Time was also spent discussing, strategizing and launching the MN Catholic Campaign for Marriage Equality. This campaign aims to:

1) Oppose (in a respectful and informed way) the proposed constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples.

2) Advocate for marriage equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation.

3) Challenge the bishops' anti-gay marriage efforts and let Minnesota legislators and voters know that the bishops do not speak for the majority of Catholics on this issue.

For the 5-Step Action Plan of this campaign, click here.

Left: I was honored to be one of the three speakers at Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's May 2 event. As Executive Coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), co-chair of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), and co-convener of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, I spoke on how we can support same-sex marriage from an alternative philosophical/theological perspective to that promulgated by the Minnesota Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Candace Mainville, MA (above center), a Hennepin County social worker, spoke from her professional experience and with references from psycho-social scientific studies about the qualifications and competencies of same-sex couples raising children as compared with opposite-sex couples. She also shared her professional perceptions and knowledge of the psycho-social adjustment of children raised by gay and lesbian parents in comparison with those raised by opposite-sex parents.

Phil Duran, JD (above at right), who serves as OutFront Minnesota's Legal Director, shared the legal implications and potential impact on LGBT families of any constitutional amendment banning civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Above: Candace Mainville responds to a question from the audience at Catholics for Marriage Equality MN's May 2 event.

Above: Members of the Minnesota Senate deliberating the marriage amendment – May 11, 2011.

For more on the events of this day at the Minnesota State Capitol, click here.

On the evening of Saturday, May 14, I hosted a gathering of members and supporters of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN at my home in St. Paul.

Left: With friends Mary Lynn Murphy and Paula Ruddy.

Right: With my friend Michael Douglas.

Above: From left: Joe Boyle; CPCSM co-founder and Catholics for Marriage Equality co-convener David McCaffrey; Darlene White; Marybeth Boyle and Tom White – May 14, 2011.

Above: Monday, May 16 saw over 600 Minnesotans gather at the State Capitol to protest the proposed marriage amendment and advocate for marriage equality for all.

For more images and commentary, click here and here.

Above: Saturday, May 21 – At the Capitol as the Minnesota House of Representatives debates the marriage amendment late into the night.

Above: Catholics for Marriage Equality MN at the Minnesota State Capitol – Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Left: My friends Tony and Chris – straight allies in the struggle for civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Above: Members of this Latino family asked at one point to help hold the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN banner.

House Democrats emerge from the House Chamber and are joined by Sen. Scott Dibble after the May 21 Minnesota House of Representatives vote on the marriage amendment. Standing next to Scott is Rep. Karen Clark.

Noted the Associated Press:

After nearly six hours of emotional debate, a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman was approved in the Minnesota House late Saturday night. It was the last legislative step needed to put the question on the statewide ballot in November 2012.

State law already prohibits gay marriage, but supporters of the proposed amendment said it’s necessary to prevent judges or lawmakers from legalizing it in the future. Opponents said the constitution should be used to expand rights, not limit them, and predicted a long, divisive debate over the next 18 months.

The House voted 70-62 mostly along party lines in the GOP-controlled chamber, though four Republicans crossed over to vote ‘no’ while two Democrats voted in favor of the ban.

During Saturday’s debate, which drew hundreds of people to the Capitol, Rep. Karen Clark described her 22-year committed relationship with her female partner. The Minneapolis Democrat said they considered getting married in Iowa, where gay marriage is legal, so her ailing father could see her marry.

“Please don’t make me go off to Iowa,” she told her colleagues. “I was raised in Minnesota. I’m a child of Minnesota.”

After the vote, Clark said it was “a sad day for Minnesota.”

For more images and commentary on the events of May 21 at the Minnesota State Capitol, see
here, here, here and here.

Above: My friend Bob with Eddie!

This photo was taken at the lovely brunch that my friends Noelle and John hosted for me after I delivered the homily at Spirit of St. Stephen's Catholic Community on the morning of Sunday, May 22.

On the evening of Friday, May 27, members and friends of Catholics for Marriage Equality MN gathered at my home in St. Paul to watch the "rough cut" of our video project!

Above: Jim, Lisa, Grace and Janet.

Right: Standing at left with Tom and Noah.

Above: Sen. Scott Dibble stands with project producer (and cousin) Mary Kay Orman (left) and filmmaker Aleshia Mueller.

Left: With my friend Scott!

For The Wild Reed's coverage of the struggle for marriage equality in Minnesota, see the following chronologically-ordered posts:
Senator John Marty on Marriage Equality in MN: "We Can Make It Happen"
A Catholic Voice for Marriage Equality at the State Capitol
MN Legislators Hear from Supporters and Opponents of Marriage Equality
At UST, a Rousing and Very Catholic Show of Support for Marriage Equality
Minnesotans Rally for Equality and Love at the State Capitol
A Message for NOM (and the Catholic Hierarchy
Archbishop Nienstedt Calls (Again) for a Marriage Amendment to Minnesota's Constitution
Archbishop Nienstedt's Unconvincing Argument
Archbishop Nienstedt Has It Wrong
Distinguishing Between Roman Catholic Theology and Civil Law in the Struggle for Marriage Equality
Dale Carpenter on the "Win-Win" Reality of Gay Marriage
The Minnesota Bishops' Last Ditch Effort
It's a Scandal
The Minnesota Bishops' Unholy War
Exposing NOM's Shameful Behavior in Minnesota
A Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage
A Celebration of Faith and Family; A Call for Compassion and Fairness
Governor Mark Dayton to LGBT Advocates: "I Stand with You"
Disappointing but Not Unexpected: "Marriage Amendment" Bill Passes MN Senate Judiciary Committee
Rep. Steve Simon on Gay Marriage and the Arc of History
Winona Daily News Calls Proposed Marriage Amendment "Bigoted" and "Malicious"
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: An Overview
Quote of the Day – May 5, 2011
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality
Law Professor: Marriage Amendment is Divisive and Mean-Spirited
Opposition to the Marriage Amendment Grows
The Real Losers at the MN State Capitol Today
David Booth on What It Might Mean to "Let the People Decide"
At the Minnesota Capitol, Signs of the Times
MN Marriage Amendment Headed for House Vote
An Eventful Day at the Capitol
Protests Against the Proposed Marriage Amendment Continue
Day One of the Campaign to Defeat the Anti-Family Marriage Ban
Doug Grow on Republican Rep. John Kriesel's Anti-Amendment Speech
Quote of the Day – May 23, 2011
The Political Intrigue (and Money) Behind the MN Marriage Amendment
In the Struggle for Marriage Equality, MN Catholics are Making a Difference by Changing Hearts and Minds

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