Today I did my first phone calling in opposition to the amendment that would define valid marriage as only between one man and one woman in Minnesota. I'd already done door-knocking and prefer being outside and seeing people face to face, but they have a lot more phone call opportunities and the time worked better this week.
There really didn't seem to be much I could do to sway the first woman who spoke with me, she said her aunt was gay and had been in a committed relationship for 30 years. One partner in the couple worked for the school system which now recognized their partnership and provided health coverage for them both. So apparently the woman's aunt didn't really care much about the vote. If her gay aunt, in a partnership for 30 years didn't care, I doubted I could do much to convince her it was important. I offered the story told by my partner in training this morning, his cousin had been in the hospital with meningitis and his cousin's partner of 7 years was not allowed to see him much. However, he, as a cousin, could.
#1 - I'm grateful that the woman took the time to dialog with me and agreed my last point was a problem.
#2 - The man who began our conversation by saying his viewpoint was personal (he didn't want to share what he thought). I said something like I feel that way too, but I also really care about this so I am making the effort to do something uncomfortable. The man later admitted he was undecided about the vote and that no one in his life was talking about it. I asked if he knew gay people. He did, but none of them were close to him or people he felt he could ask how they felt about this. We talked for a while and at the end of the conversation he said he would "probably vote no". You would think that would be my gratitude, but in fact I felt even more grateful for his openness and willingness to both share and listen.
#3 - One woman I spoke to said that marriage was ordained by God for procreation. I then asked her if she was married.
"Why did you get married?" (pause in the conversation) "I mean did you marry to have children."
"No, we got married because we were in love."
I tried to connect with this love angle but i couldn't get her beyond the God/marriage/procreation. When I got off the phone I asked one of the people supporting us what I could have said there. He said I could have asked her what about couples that are barren, are their marriages valid?
"Good point," I said, "I never would have thought of that."
"Do you think she would have responded to that?"
"I don't know, but I think it would have made her think."
Which later made ME think. "What is the purpose or point of marriage?" It seems like such a simple question, but I honestly don't have a simple answer. I guess if I ever decide to get married I'll have to work on that. Though I'm kind of grateful I haven't had to face that yet. Though I can't say I'm taking a stand and won't get married until all people have the right, I would also feel sadness participating in something that excludes so many people.
#4 - I made phone calls for two hours, in that two hours I had 7 conversations (and a lot of no answers). None of the conversations were unpleasant, even when in complete disagreement with me. There were a couple people who refused to talk in a brusque way I guess, but that was it. And yet still, after doing this I got off the phone emotionally exhausted. I actually felt emotionally exhausted after my #1 & #2 gratitudes above, which I can't figure out, because they were such positive experiences. Maybe it is because as an introvert it takes so much energy, maybe it is my sensitivity, maybe...who knows. Anyway, I took refuge in the fact that a good friend of mine would be at my soccer game soon after volunteering and I could get a hug from him, which I felt I needed.
When I arrived, I walked in with the organizer of the soccer league, she asked why I was wearing jeans and I explained I had just been volunteering. She had volunteered as well and when I told her I was looking forward to getting a hug from my friend she said, "I'll give you a hug right now."
#5 - The most important people to talk to are not the strangers on the phone but those in my own life. I was feeling guilty because I had not yet spoken to my own father. My Dad and I are in almost complete agreement on politics, so I thought he would be a "no" vote. However, I have never in my life heard my Dad mention gay people in any way, so I really didn't know. I finally brought it up today by asking if his church (the church I grew up in) had taken a stance on the issue. I expected they would either have the opposite view of me, or not have taken sides. To my pleasant surprise, my father informed me that the pastor of the church is going family to family talking with them about it and that they are working for a no vote. My faith was renewed (and my Dad is with them :)
Bonus - I've tried to get my brother to come in and volunteer with me on this for months. Meaning I've asked him a few times and he's always said no.
Tonight he said he will come.
I'd like to add this link by Jack Davies a former state senator. He was the drafter of the form and structure rewrite of the Minnesota Constitution ratified in 1974.