“Uniting for All Families” Family Picnic Urges Minnesotans to Protect Families and Vote No on Freedom-Limiting Amendment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kate Brickman, Press Secretary
Phone Number: 612-460-1219
September 5, 2012 – Minneapolis, MN – Today at Lynnhurst Park in Minneapolis, families from across the metro came together to discuss how the proposed constitutional amendment hurts families in Minnesota. Families were joined by national best-selling author and marriage advocate Zach Wahls, who became famous for his impassioned speech after his 2011 testimony to the Iowa House of Representatives against a constitutional amendment that would end marriage for same-sex couples in the state.
“I’ve come to Minnesota this week to share with families throughout the state what it’s like to be told you’re not a real family,” said Wahls. “I am here to urge you to vote no on this hurtful amendment because it limits the freedom to marry for same-sex couples and because, I can tell you firsthand, hurts Minnesota families by telling them they are less valued than other families.”
The family picnic is part of a statewide tour “Uniting All Families” which features Wahls and is aimed at sparking conversations with Minnesotans about why marriage matters, who should have the freedom to participate in it, and about the proven ability of gay and lesbian parents to raise healthy, successful children. The picnic and tour were organized by Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign working to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the freedom to marry for committed, same-sex couples in Minnesota.
Erin Leitheiser, a mom and corporate executive in the Twin Cities, discussed how she hopes that someday her 19-month-old son, Nolan, is fortunate enough to find someone to spend his life with and have the same kind of relationship that she has with her husband. “I hope that Nolan grows up in a state that ensures that all people are treated the way we would want to be treated. I am so lucky to have found my husband, and I wish for everyone else to have the loving, committed relationship that we have. Why would I want to deny that to anyone else? If this passes, I don’t know how one day I would explain this to Nolan. You need to treat everyone with fairness and kindness, and I’m going to lead by example by voting no.”
Wahls was also joined by Connie Coleman, a mom and wife of St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Coleman explained how she taught her children to treat others they way she would want to be treated, and that is why she is voting no. “Our friends and neighbors in same-sex relationships – they have the same love, same commitment, and same responsibility to each other that Chris and I have had for the last 24 years. I would never want to deny that to anyone else, and I want my kids to live in a state where we say no to this hurtful, freedom-liming amendment.”
Sara Grewing, Saint Paul mom and attorney, discussed the ads that Minnesotans will likely see in the fall, which claim children need both a mother and a father and children of gay and lesbian couples don’t do as well as other children. “We know that we are going to see divisive and hurtful attacks on Minnesota families in the coming months. They will be cruel, mean and misleading. In short, they won’t be very Minnesotan. We also know that passing this amendment will single these families out and tell them their families are less valued than other families. It’s important to treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s a basic Minnesota value, reflective of the state that raised me and is helping me raise my children. That’s why I am voting no in November.”
A recent announcement by the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MN-AAP) said that the amendment would harm children in Minnesota by singling their families out and placing a stigma on children of same-sex parents. In a statement opposing the amendment, MN-AAP said “as an advocate for children and their families, MN-AAP believes this amendment would be harmful to the health and well-being of children and adolescents in Minnesota.” The statement goes on to say that children raised by same-gender parents do just well as their counterparts raised by opposite-gender parents.
“I know what it’s like to be a kid and have a small group of people say that there is something wrong with your family,” said Wahls, who has two moms. “I know how much it hurts to see the value of your family diminished and outright attacked. People who support this amendment say that every child deserves a mom and a dad. What every child deserves are loving and supportive parents who are willing to put in the commitment and responsibility to raising young adults. That’s what makes a family – the love and commitment they share.”
Jenny Simmonds and Mary Gustafson also shared the story of how this amendment is impacting their two sons, Charlie and Carter. When Jenny and Mary explained the amendment to their children, their son Carter wrote a letter to them asking what it meant for their family. “Explaining this to Carter and Charlie was one of the harder things we’ve ever had to do. All they know is that their moms love each other – they have no idea that their moms don’t have the freedom to marry or that their family is different in any way,” said Simmonds. “This amendment would negatively impact children across this state by telling them that their families are valued less than others, and that’s just not right.”
“Being raised by two moms,” continued Wahls, “I can say the only challenges I faced as a child were those created by people who sought to hurt our family and say we were less valuable. Aside from that, we were like all other families – we go to church together, we eat dinner together, and we love one another.”
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