Hey, Matt Birk:
I have always liked you as much as any Packers fan living in Minnesota can. You are a smart and reasonable guy. And you do find a way to most reasonably make the case, as far as I can tell, for why marriage should be protected in Minnesota ("Let's protect marriage -- and speech," Sept. 30).
The only problem is, it isn't under attack. And, frankly, this ridiculous rhetoric tires me. I am tired of defending people like you. I am tired of acting like you are reasonable. I am exhausted from trying to understand where you come from.
Telling gay people that an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman isn't an attack on who they are is like the police telling the marchers in Birmingham that they hit them with fire hoses because they thought they looked hot. We do not live in a direct democracy in this country for a reason, and that is because the overwhelming majority often tends to persecute the minority, and that is exactly what this referendum does. It is a chance for all Minnesotans to speak for, or against, progress.
I only pray that you and people like you can understand what this idea of an "authentic marriage" represents to those who were not born from such circumstances. It is insulting; it is degrading, and it serves to keep those who are different at a level lower than everyone else. This is not the country we live in. This amendment is petty. It's just a chance to stir up controversy at the expense of real people and real families everywhere -- families like mine.
I hate the way people like you talk about gay people like they are some far-off, distant thing. It's the same reason everyone loves the gay couple on "Modern Family," but have you ever seen those dudes kiss on the mouth? (To be clear, I am not requesting this, but I think that it points out the vast disconnect we have with this issue.)
We need to grow up and realize that more people are getting divorced now, and not just because it is easier. How many episodes of "Mad Men" do you need to see to realize that the rose-colored picture of the way things were never existed -- that people were unhappy, and that those without power were marginalized and made small? The marriage amendment is a throwback to that era -- some last-ditch attempt to return to a time when you could be arrested for possession of a condom, and I find it unbelievable that we are still thinking about it.
Don't kid yourself: In the coming election, people in Minnesota are getting a chance to say what "normal" is, what a family should look like. And while you can pump your fists about the triumph of the single mother overcoming all the odds, I doubt her kids would feel that they are less than they could be -- because that is what you are saying, and I don't care how apologetically you try to say it. I wish my parents hadn't gotten divorced when I was a kid, but seeing how happy they are now makes me happy, and growing up in some façade of conservative ignorance would have hurt me more.
I am glad for all of the people who have come from more traditional homes, and I respect that you feel good about the way you grew up, as I would like to make a happy, "authentic" home for my kids someday. That said, I learned early on that there are a lot of different ways to live, and there are a lot of different ways to be. I respect your right to speak your mind. Unfortunately, not all opinions are good. The marriage amendment, if passed, would invalidate people. It would say that my family isn't as good as yours.
While I may think that my mom, dad, brothers and sisters are better than everyone else's, I am not the one trying to make it a law.
Andreas Aarsvold lives in Minneapolis. To read more marriage amendment commentaries, go here.