Tevlin: Same-sex couple thank their 'Vote No' neighbors

  • Article by: JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 30, 2012 - 7:32 PM
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A Vote No sign in Minneapolis

In the past few weeks, as election fever has escalated, there have been sporadic reports that lawn signs and billboards on the marriage amendment have been vandalized. Inevitably, each side has blamed the other for intolerance.

So imagine Kristin Strandlund's reaction when she walked past her "Vote No" sign in her south Minneapolis lawn and noticed that it, too, had been tagged.

"When I first saw it, I had this sinking feeling that someone had done something to my sign," said Strandlund. "Then when I read it; I burst into tears."

Here is what the note said:

Thank you for displaying your commitment to VOTE NO on the Anti-Marriage Amendment. We live in this community with our young family and cannot express enough how much it means to live in a neighborhood that supports us. Thank you for all you have done and are doing to defeat this Amendment to our State Constitution. We know the polls are close. Can we ask you to have just a couple of more conversations with friends/family/co-workers/acquaintances about VOTING NO? The defeat of the Amendment means so much to our family and so many other families like ours. We want to wake up on November 7 and not worry about how to explain this hurtful Amendment to our children! THANK YOU AGAIN.

"I work with small children, so the part about them really got to me," said Strandlund.

Strandlund wasn't the only one to find the note. Residents in the Hale neighborhood near Lake Nokomis who have "Vote No" signs in opposition to the amendment that restricts marriage to one man, one woman, may have found the same thank-you note.

Strandlund was so moved by the gesture that she took a photo and posted it on Facebook. Word spread, and someone figured out who was doing the good deed.

Mary Novak and Lisa Nadeau were not looking for attention when they conceived the idea. They moved into the neighborhood this past spring with their two daughters and just wanted to let their new neighbors know they appreciated feeling welcome.

"We just moved in in May, then the election started heating up," said Novak, who develops affordable housing. "At first, we saw a few 'Vote Yes' signs and we thought, 'My goodness, did we move into the wrong neighborhood? What do our neighbors feel about us?'"

The neighbors they'd met so far were "mostly" accepting, and Novak and Nadeau, a dietitian, really wanted to make the move work.

"We want our girls to grow up and drive by this house someday and say, 'That's where we lived as kids,'" said Novak. "But we also just want to raise them with the confidence that your state is not saying your family is less valid than other families."

Pretty soon, Vote No signs started popping up all around them.

"Every time we saw one, it was so uplifting," said Novak. So they hit upon a novel way to express their gratitude. "I mean, how often do you get a thank-you note on your lawn sign?"

So they printed copies of the note and spent a couple of nights driving around and clipping them to lawn signs. Novak said the "random act of kindness" was fun, kind of like a good version of ringing someone's bell and running when you were a kid.

One night, a group of women having a party saw them approach the lawn sign and figured the women were up to no good.

When they learned it was a 'thank you' instead of graffiti, they were delighted, Novak said.

Novak has no idea if the notes will make a difference in the vote, but she hopes it will at least make the sign owner feel better for a day. And if it prompts them to make a call to a friend, she doesn't mind.

"I just don't want to wake up on Nov. 7 and think I didn't do everything I could," she said.

jtevlin@startribune.com 612-673-1702

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