So here I am, 46 hours away from when the polls close, trying to write anything coherent about how I’m feeling about the dueling possibilities that my State of Minnesota could either become the 31st state in the nation to place a permanent ban on same-sex marriage in its constitution, or the first in the nation to send one of these hurtful ballot initiatives to its well-deserved defeat. Bleary-eyed and exhausted from near nonstop campaigning, I’m desperately digging for every last reservoir of energy to push through these last few hours to the finish line. I can’t stand the thought of having anything left in the tank come Tuesday at 8 pm. I won’t let it happen. I promise you that. I will have given all I have to give.
Think about it, friends – what more could we possibly fight for in our lives than the right for everyone to find love and happiness in this lifetime. Of all the causes and campaigns of which I’ve been a part, I can’t imagine a more compelling reason to act. So many people in this world are so profoundly lonely. So many people have never found love, or have lost the ones they love most. So many people go through their entire lives searching for someone to love and someone who will love them back. In the end, it’s all any of us really wants and all we really need.
Yet here we are, staring at the abhorrent possibility that the constitution of our state will serve not as a grantor of freedoms as it was intended, but instead as a permanent barrier to love and happiness for so many people. It’s so hard for me not to get angry and become hateful toward those who would seek to inflict such harm on people under the dubious guise of “protecting marriage.” I will admit, friends, that in my worst moments I have let hatred fill my heart, even in the midst of fighting for love. I’ve lived in this painful irony far too many days lately. It’s been tearing me apart at the seams.
With (now) 45 hours and 22 minutes to go in this election, there’s something I want you all to know – a feeling that’s been welling up in me the past few early mornings as I drive to the campaign office and make my way inside. It started with a mother and daughter who I see almost every morning on my commute; the daughter, who is visibly developmentally disabled, using her hand-pedaled bike to ride around the block, throwing her head back and smiling and shouting with pure joy while the mother patiently walks beside her, beaming at her daughter’s unbridled happiness. Further along, another mother putting her young son on the school bus and lingering until he appears in the window and gives her a wave, a gesture to which she responds with a blown kiss before hurrying to her car to get to work.
Then I get to the campaign office where the first person I see is another mom – one who has spent nearly all day every day calling people across Minnesota to ask them to vote against the marriage amendment. On the desk next to her phone she places a framed picture of her gay son, now serving in the military and soon to be deployed to Afghanistan, and keeps her eyes fixed on him while she calls hundreds and hundreds of people in the hope that she can touch their hearts and change their minds.
Waiting in my office are Chong and Johnny, still in their early twenties and completely, sweetly, madly in love with each other, working their hearts out for the chance to marry each other someday.
I guess what I’m trying to tell you, dear friends, is that there is so much love in all of us. On the days when I don’t give in to anger, when I let myself see with non-judging eyes and feel with an open heart, I know that love is the force that lies underneath it all – all of the arguments and politics and amendments and debates. There aren’t just a bunch of hateful bigots on the other side either, as convenient as it would be for me to believe that. I can’t allow myself to paint them that way, even though I want to. In order to free myself from my own hatred and anger, I need to learn to love them, too.
At 8:01 pm on Tuesday, 44 hours and 57 minutes from now, we will either have a marriage amendment or we won’t. We will either have won or we won’t. But our ultimate purpose is so much bigger than all of that anyway.
To grow love in our hearts and lives. To recognize love in each other. To fight for love- not just for ourselves but for everyone. This is what we must do. This is what we were born to do.
Today. Tomorrow. For all our days remaining.