When the Jewish World publishes a “Celebrations” special section, it is our custom to move the social notices (B’nai Mitzva, engagements and weddings) from the front of the paper to the section. With Minnesota becoming the 12th marriage equality state in the nation on May 14, we are looking forward to publishing a number of engagement notices in our June 21 “Celebrations” section. We assume that families will want to shep naches, share their joy, with the Jewish community. (Please send your photos and notices to Erin Elliott Bryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, June 12. There is a $10 charge for processing the photo.)
In August, we will watch for your wedding notices.
It has been a weird and finally exhilarating path to the passage of the same-sex marriage bill, which Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law, in a ceremony staged in front of the Capitol last week and watched by a throng numbering in the thousands. The word “inclusion” is bandied about in various contexts; but the scene at the Capitol was truly inclusive for thousands of Minnesotans who heretofore had been treated as second-class citizens vis-à-vis the state’s marriage laws.
Discrimination against LGBT people is still a sort of final frontier in civil rights activism; and there is still more to be done on the federal level — specifically, overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Readers will recall that the organized Jewish community came together in an overwhelming way last year in opposition to the ballot initiative that would have amended the state Constitution with the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. The ballot measure was forthrightly opposed by the Minnesota Rabbinical Association, Jewish Community Action, Conservative and Reform congregations, and many of the major Jewish agencies.
Although public opinion polls in the run-up to the general election showed that both the marriage amendment and the photo ID (voter suppression) amendments would likely pass, the final poll, the actual voting on election day, delivered different results. And the movement to defeat the marriage amendment continued rolling, as the DFL also regained control of both houses in the Legislature. Many, if not most, Minnesotans were thrilled to see the House and then the Senate pass the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota. I want to give a special shout-out to Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover (who is about the same age as my eldest son), who was one of the Senate authors of the marriage equality bill, and stuck to his guns in the face of staunch opposition from his fellow Republican caucus members. And, of course, we will miss Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who was a wonderful straight ally for gay rights. Best of luck in Oakland, Chris.
So, things are looking up in Minnesota; but it was not an unalloyed victory, getting marriage equality into law. The DFL leadership decided that gun control legislation would not be debated on the House and Senate floors; so even a minimalist bill to strengthen background checks for the purchase of certain firearms was scuttled. Legislative leaders reportedly did not want some of their party members in outstate districts to take two hard votes that would go against the grain of socially conservative constituents. Even after the carnage at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis and the mass murder of little children in Newtown, Conn., Minnesota did not act in any way to rein in gun violence. We have some unfinished business.
And we need to be vigilant going forward to safeguard the civil rights of minorities, including gays and lesbians, and members of racial and religious minorities. For example, there was horrible news from Georgia (not the southern state, but the republic in the Caucasus region), where a mob of more than 20,000 attacked a small gay rights march in downtown Tbilisi. The violence last Friday sent at least 14 people to the hospital, according to a report Monday in the New York Times.
The newspaper report indicated that the police were slow to act, and that clerics of the Georgian Orthodox church instigated the mob violence: “Some of the priests leading the rock-throwing throngs who stormed past police cordons could be seen participating in the melee; one repeatedly slammed a stool into the windshield of one of several minibuses trying to carry the marchers to safety, while another punched marchers and tried to drag a driver out of a bus. Some gave their names in interviews.”
We have not created a perfect world. However, we can take pride in pushing forward the wheel of progress in Minnesota.
And don’t forget to send in those engagement announcements.
— Mordecai Specktor / email@example.com
(American Jewish World, 5.24.13)