Marriage: Extend the freedom to same-sex couples

By Shar Knutson, Jamie Gulley and Eliot Seide

As leaders in our state’s labor movement, we believe in a fair Minnesota, a Minnesota that values love, commitment and responsibility. Every day, hard working Minnesotans strive to build a state that is inclusive and prosperous for all, with no exceptions.
And, the truth is, that Minnesota already exists. It exists in the working families across our state who endeavor to do well by their neighbors and provide for each other. It exists in the hearts and minds of Iron Rangers and in the homes of those who live and work in the plains of southern Minnesota. It exists in the small-business owners and workers in Moorhead and Winona, the neighborhoods of Woodbury and Brainerd and the bustling streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Each and every day, Minnesotans prove that this place exists. Consider the father, already late for work, who stops to help shovel his neighbor out after a heavy snowstorm. Think about the star high-school quarterback who speaks up when one of his classmates is being bullied or of the child who donates her last quarter to charity during the holiday season.
There is something truly special about this great state we all call home. We look out for each other and live out the idea of the Golden Rule in our daily lives. We don’t turn our backs on family, or tell some of our brothers and sisters that they aren’t good enough or as worthy as anyone else.
Unfortunately, our government doesn’t always reflect the values we all so deeply cherish. And our core Minnesota values of fairness, freedom and family aren’t always represented in the bills our legislators discuss at the State Capitol.
This year, however, we have the chance to right a wrong that has been state law for too long. Simply because of who they are, same-sex couples and their families are currently excluded from marriage. As leaders of some of Minnesota’s largest labor organizations, we’re proud to join union members across the state who are standing in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters who ask for nothing more than to be treated the same as anyone else.
These families live and work right here in Minnesota. They are union members, small business owners, and residents of towns small and large. They are our sisters and brothers, our children and family members, and our friends. They raise children, work hard, contribute to our communities, and pay their taxes — and they deserve to be treated fairly and have the same freedoms as any other Minnesotan.
Now is the time. This is the year. As a state, we’ve spent years talking about why marriage matters so much. We’ve shared our own personal stories, and asked our neighbors and friends to share theirs. We’ve cried, we’ve laughed, and we’ve learned. And we’ve affirmed what we already knew to be true: Marriage is about the love, commitment and responsibility that two people share.
Marriage is a unique bond between two people to which nothing else compares. And this year, we have the chance to strengthen thousands of families by extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.
As union members, we’re proud to stand with the majority of Minnesotans who are calling on our lawmakers to do the right thing this year by making sure that same-sex couples can finally wed in the state they call home. Extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples is the fair thing to do. It’s the Minnesotan thing to do and, most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.
For the future of our state and all of the families who live and work here, we urge the members of the Minnesota Legislature to vote yes on S.F. 925 and H.F. 1054 when it comes before them for a vote in the coming weeks.
Marriage is a unique bond between two people to which nothing else compares. And this year, we have the chance to strengthen thousands of families by extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.


By Shar Knutson, Jamie Gulley and Eliot Seide

Shar Knutson is president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, Jamie Gulley is president of SEIU Minnesota State Council and Eliot Seide is executive director of AFSCME Council 5.

Posted:   05/07/2013 12:01:00 AM CDT

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