Probably not too worried of a conservative boycott hurting their upcoming Hot Chip, Ani DiFranco or Jesus & Mary Chain concerts, the owner and staff at First Avenue nightclub have raised their voices – and, more specifically, erected a billboard -- denouncing the same-sex marriage ban that Minnesota voters will face this Election Day. The club’s name and logo are featured on a new billboard near Target Field that reads, “Don’t limit the freedom to marry,” and, “First Avenue supports same-sex marriage and equality for all people.” It includes the website for Minnesotans United for All Families, the primary organization urging voters to say no to the proposed amendment.
Although First Ave has large billboard space on top of its own building, this billboard is actually on the other side of the ballpark near Lee’s Liquor Lounge, at 12th St. and Glenwood Av. The club’s owner, Byron Frank, came up with the idea for the billboard and paid for it entirely out-of-pocket, First Ave general manager Nate Kranz said. There will also be ongoing efforts to fight the amendment inside the club, too, including more ads and fundraising efforts, he added.
“It is something that means a lot to everybody at First Avenue, so we figured we would do what we could to help out the cause,” said Kranz, who doesn’t fear any consumer backlash. The response so far from customers and business associates, he said, “has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Minnesotans United for All Families has been heavily targeting concertgoers this summer. Volunteers from the organization petitioned the 10,000 music fans arriving to Rock the Garden two weekends ago outside Walker Arts Center, which is one of several big arts organizations that also openly oppose the amendment (also: the Guthrie and Hennepin Theater Trust). More petitioning is expected outside the July 6-7 Basilica Block Party, which became a focal point of the marriage debate last summer. Gay marriage is already illegal in Minnesota, but the proposed amendment would define marriage as solely between a man and a women.
A phone call about First Ave’s billboard to Minnesotans for Marriage representatives, which is in support of the amendment, was not returned.