The 29th Annual Pride Festival kicked off at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis—roughly 12 hours after New York State voted to legalize same sex marriage.
With Minnesota voters being asked to vote in 2012 on a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning same sex marriage, the number one topic at Saturday’s event was the amendment and how to marshal the forces to vote it down.
At the center of the effort is Outfront Minnesota, a political action group comprised of those from the LGBTG and straight communities. Monica Meyer is executive director of that group.
“New York gives us a lot of hope [and] we are working to inspire Minnesotans to go to the polls and vote no," she said. "We expect an even higher voter turnout than normal in Minnesota and we know we are going to have to raise and spend about $5 million at least to get our message to voters.”
“Minnesota can be the state to really help turn things around. I want to be transparent and to show that gay people are just as normal as straight people," Meyer’s partner, Michele Steinwald said.
Steinwald said she plans on doing a lot of door knocking and phone bank calling to rally support against the amendment. And at the event, there was not shortage of petitions that urged a “no” vote, 17-months from now.
Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) told Patch on Friday that she strongly supports any local efforts that would get Minnesotans to the polls to vote against amending the Minnesota Constitution to recognize marriage as only between one man and one woman. Bonoff was an outspoken opponent of the measure as it made its way through the legislature in May.
"I am both frustrated and saddened by this," she said.
Yesterday, straight people were clearly in the mix at the Outfront Minnesota venue.
Local Aleks Hindin said the “political situation drove me to be here. This is a fight about justice and equality.”
Sarah Rohow of Hopkins is also straight.
“Nobody seems to care about straight people being married so why should they care if gay people are?" she said. “It’s a civil rights issue.”
Christopher Mohs said he wants to show that being gay is nothing that should make anyone fearful.
“I plan to spend a lot of time getting conversations going with family and friends,” he said. “I have a number of family members living in northern Minnesota and will be engaging them in conversations and encouraging them to vote no.”
Maurice Davis and Shekinah Thornton, both locals and both straight, said they would both be talking about the amendment to family and friends and urging no votes.
“People should be allowed to associate with anyone they want, including marrying them,” said Davis. “Gays should be allowed to marry.”
Thornton added: “You can’t tell people they can’t love someone."