Bemidji Residents Rally to Vote No on Freedom Limiting Marriage Amendment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kate Brickman, Press Secretary
Phone Number: 612-460-1219
July 11, 2012 – Bemidji, MN – More than 150 residents from Bemidji and Beltrami County rallied Wednesday evening at Bemidji State University to organize efforts to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the freedom to marry.
Local teachers, faith leaders, businesspeople and community members listened to speakers explain why they oppose the amendment at the Bemidji Votes NO Community Kickoff. Rev. Steve Schmit of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church of Bemidji told the audience that the proposed amendment would limit religious freedom for himself and other clergy around the state, mixing religious and politics in the state constitution.
“The Episcopal Church just this week approved marriage blessing rites for same-sex couples,” said Rev. Schmit, “but this amendment would limit my freedom to carry out those blessings in my church and have it recognized by the government. We must say a resounding no to a measure would forever limit the wonders of marriage for same-sex couples.”
Long-time Bemidji resident Marilyn Heltzer shared her story about her two daughters, both of whom came out to her and her husband as lesbians years ago, and both of whom are in long-term committed relationships.
“Every relationship is different,” said Heltzer. “But every relationship, like my daughters’ and Jim’s and mine, is based on love and caring. My husband, Jim, died a year ago this month. He was very proud of his daughters. And I am very proud of our daughters and their partners. Some of you know them. I hope others will meet them. Their relationships, like mine and Jim’s, surely should be celebrated and recognized as marriages.”
“As a pastor I have presided at a number of very special weddings,” said Rev. Linnea Papke-Larson of Bemidji. “It is a sacred thing to be part of that moment when two people make these near-impossible promises to each other to be together in sickness and in health, in rich times and poor times, wherever life’s path should take them, ‘til death do us part.’ How my own heart aches that marriage is not even a possibility for my own daughter.”
Minnesotans United for All Families organized the event with local volunteers. Volunteers have been working for months talking with voters on the phones during conversation drives in Bemidji. The campaign works out of space provided by the Headwaters Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church.
“Same-sex couples want to be held accountable in the same ways as the rest of society,” said Rev. Papke-Larson. “They want to share the joy as well as the commitment that marriage is. Please join me in voting no.”
Minnesotans United for All Families is the official campaign working to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Minnesota.
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