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04/29/2010

NOM's bombarding Minnesota -- have we learned enough to care?

by Jeremy Hooper

We've warned you that the D.C.- and New Jersey-based National Organization For Marriage is aggressively targeting the state of Minnesota. We've also warned you against believing that America's most prominent anti-equality advocate, Maggie Gallagher, has at all backed away from her NOM duties, even if Brian Brown has taken over as president. A new NOM press release bears us out on both points:

Archbishop Nienstedt published an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune this week calling for the state legislature to put a marriage amendment on the ballot in Minnesota. “The only way to secure the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman is to follow the lead of other states and put a simple definition of marriage in our state Constitution, beyond the reach of activist courts,” Nienstedt wrote.
...
The Archbishop’s op-ed came on the heels of a forum on marriage for Catholics featuring Archbishop Nienstedt, California Bishop Salvatore Cordileone and Maggie Gallagher, which was held on the campus of University of St. Thomas. Maggie Gallagher returns to Minnesota this Friday, April 30, for a speech on marriage on the campus of Bethel University at 10:20am CT.

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE TO ARCHBISHOP NIENSTEDT: THANK YOU! [NOM]

A marriage equality bill is a reasonable possibility in Minnesota in the near future. We know it. Actual Minnesotans know it. Maggie knows it. And just like she did in California (alongside Bishop Cordileone) when we weren't looking and in Maine when we were overconfident about our prospects, Maggie is moving into MN, building a network and infrastructure that MNwill be five steps ahead of us, ready to fight at the ballot to take away any right that we rightfully and reasonably win in the legislature or courts. We must care just as much! We must be proactive in fighting before there even is a fight!

- We need to start thinking about the public schools issue right now. It was our opposition's winning argument in both CA and ME. We need to be forthright about the fact that LGBT people will, can, and should be addressed, protected, and acknowledged in MN public schools, just like everyone else. Unabashedly and unapologetically, and regardless of whether there is marriage equality or not. And we need to turn this into a positive rather than a point of fear.

- We need to start pinpointing families that we can use in ads, the same way the anti-fairness side has used the Wirthlins against us in two different campaigns.

- We need to start the conversation about why we don't vote on minority rights. Web ads, op-eds, blog posts, whatever -- we need to get out front and stop people from signing any kind of petition that would encourage the anti-American idea.

- We need to pinpoint and motivate our faith allies. When Archbishop Nienstedt places an op-ed, we need our supportive voices to immediately counter.

- We need to start talking to Minnesotans in terms of human rights rather than gay rights, locating the heterosexual allies who are the most prone to apathy on this issue. This writer personally encountered this in Maine on election day, when I had conversations with an eye-opening number of gay supportive servers, bartenders, store clerks, hotel staff, etc., who had no intention of going out to vote. Presumably, those apathetic numbers were in the tens of thousands. We know that our opposition is hyper-motivated, largely by church networks. We must find any and every way to light fires under our support system.

In short: We have to start thinking like our opposition, who never stop thinking about how they can strip away our rights. They are looking at Iowa, New Hampshire, D.C., and Minnesota, with varying opportunities for what they deem as success. We can no longer afford to look only for our next opportunity to increase peace. We must dedicate as much focus to where we will next have to defend love against unprincipled objection.

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