Kevin Winge

Kevin Winge is a native of Minnesota. He lives in San Francisco, California where he is is the executive director of Project Open Hand, a nonprofit organization that provides nutritious meals to people living with disease. Read more about Kevin Winge.

Posts about Society

An Open Letter to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: September 9, 2013 - 9:04 AM

 

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak officiates at our wedding at City Hall.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak officiates at our wedding at City Hall.

 
Dear Mayor Rybak:
 
You have been clear that your three-state tour promoting marriage equality in Minnesota is driven by your desire to increase tourism dollars in Minneapolis. Since Illinois, Colorado and Wisconsin have yet to approve same-sex marriage, there is an opportunity to woo gay and lesbian couples from those states to exchange vows in the “City of Lakes,” and leave millions of dollars with the hospitality industries before returning to their home states. It makes good economic sense, and it accomplishes so much more than simply adding revenue to the local coffers.
 
In a subtle and effective way, your “Marry Me in Minneapolis” campaign continues the nationwide movement for marriage equality. In Chicago, you reminded leaders and voters that Illinois has yet to do the right thing and legalize same-sex marriage. In Madison, Milwaukee and cities in Colorado, your economic campaign will have the added value of keeping the issue on the front burner of peoples’ consciousness. And there is another added value to your innovative campaign.
 
Some gay and lesbian people from these three states will come to Minneapolis to marry and they will leave money behind with caterers, hotels and florists. A few of them will also realize that right now, Minneapolis is a more welcoming city to live and work in. States that don’t wake up to this fact will, inevitably, see a drain of talent as gays and lesbians relocate to communities – like Minneapolis – where they truly are equal citizens.
 
While your focus with this tour is on generating revenue for Minneapolis, I also personally know your commitment to the issue. When my partner and I became one of the 1,640 couples who applied for a marriage license in Minnesota, we knew who we wanted to perform the ceremony. You graciously agreed to open your office and marry us on August 30th.
 
Your motivation for the “Marry Me in Minneapolis” campaign may be economic, but you truly understand the significance of what Minnesota has done. As you said at the start of our wedding, “We are gathered here to make history in the name of love.”
 
You just can’t put a price tag on that.

An Open Letter to Homophobes (The Few of You Who Remain)

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: April 14, 2013 - 2:03 PM
Dear Homophobes:
 
Your heads must be spinning.
 
In just the past year, Vice-President Biden came out in favor of same-sex marriage followed by President Obama shortly thereafter.
 
In the November election, every same sex marriage ballet initiative in the U.S. resulted in victory for gay rights.
 
Suddenly, Republicans are tripping over themselves to get on the LGBT bandwagon – and not just those Republicans whose children are gay. (By the way, LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, in case you aren’t familiar with the term.)
 
The Supreme Court is now mulling over two cases; same sex marriage in California and the Defense of Marriage Act.
 
Uruguay – Uruguay for goodness sakes – legalized gay marriage, and France is poised to do the same thing.
 
The Minnesota legislature could become the second Midwestern state, after Iowa, to legalize gay marriage and Governor Dayton stands ready to sign such legislation.
 
And now we learn that at least one member of the four professional sports leagues – a gay, male basketball, football, baseball or hockey player is contemplating coming out, and the National Hockey League and the National Football League are determining how to support gay players.
 
It all must make you long for the days of calling for a boycott of anything that Ellen DeGeneres endorsed. Of course, those boycotts weren’t very effective now, were they?
 
It’s time, dear homophobes, to move on. I’m sure there is yet another group of people that you could put your energies towards discriminating against. Or perhaps you could try something new.
 
Perhaps you could try tolerance, acceptance and love. 

A Threat to Marriage

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: November 1, 2011 - 6:50 PM

We should have seen it coming. The signs were all there. You couldn’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without learning, in graphic detail, about a plan we now understand was meant to undermine the very bedrock of our society. An insidious plot, carried out by a handful of individuals, meant to destroy our cherished institution of marriage.

In a mere 72 days, America’s sweethearts, Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, have shaken the time-honored tradition of marriage to its very foundation. After only 10 weeks of marriage, the newlyweds have filed for divorce. These flamboyant heterosexuals flaunted their sexuality in our faces and then had the gall to exchange their wedding vows for millions of dollars. I don’t care what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home (correction – homes – in this case), but this time the straights have gone too far.
 
No longer can we sit ideally by and allow this affront to the sacred union of two people to go unchallenged. We must mobilize to ensure this perversion of marriage never occurs again; and the only way to accomplish this is to amend our constitution to prevent heterosexuals from marrying.
 
Now is the time to act. To protect all that we hold dear in life, we must have a constitutional amendment that ensures that heterosexuals not be allowed to marry. Once on the ballot, we can devote the next year to spending millions of dollars, dividing families and communities, to mandate who can and who cannot enter into legally recognized marriages. Nothing les than the fate of our civilization is at stake.

Dear Archbishop Nienstedt:

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: October 22, 2011 - 8:45 AM

Dear Archbishop Nienstedt: 

I do believe, that you believe, it is your responsibility as the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, to help ensure that the amendment to change our state’s Constitution to ban gay marriage is passed by voters in next year’s election. I also believe that it is critically important that we speak truth to power. You, sir, have a tremendous amount of power. And on this issue, Archbishop Nienstedt, you are wrong.
 
You are spearheading a statewide effort to get parish priests to organize efforts in their communities to get out the vote to change our Constitution. If you are successful, this change will harm individuals. It will harm families. It will harm our state.
 
I’m not a member of the clergy and I’m not a theologian, but I know you’re wrong because I know what’s in my heart; and what is in my heart is love.
 
I love my partner. I could no more change who I love than I could change the color of my skin. Like my straight friends, my gay and lesbian friends love their partners, too. And those who have children, love their children. None of us are a threat to the institution of marriage. How can loving people who want to be married do anything but enhance an institution like marriage?
 
Archbishop Nienstedt, your efforts will not only divide congregations, it will divide communities and families. You are driving a wedge between people and those divisions will not be forgotten with the passing of the election in November of 2012. You say this is about preserving the sanctity of marriage, but it’s not. It is about intentionally harming a group of people that wants nothing more than to have their loving relationships acknowledged and respected.
 
Humans want to love and be loved, but few of us are in positions of power that can actually lead us to become more loving people. Archbishop Nienstedt, you are one of those people. Please stop the divisive and hurtful actions you are taking regarding the amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Please use your position to help us all become a more tolerant and loving community.

Same-Sex Weddings Celebrated

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: August 20, 2011 - 10:51 AM

Long before New York State legalized gay marriage this summer, The New York Times began recognizing gay unions in their “Weddings/Celebrations” pages of the “Sunday Styles” section. The number of unions highlighted in the paper, however, has significantly increased since the Empire State legalized same-sex marriage. For those Minnesotans who are fighting for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in our state, the “Sunday Styles” section should be required reading.

Last Sunday’s featured wedding was between Jacques Beaumont and his partner of 39 years, Richard Townsend. It was an unusual wedding, but not because it was a union of two men.
 
Mr. Beaumont and Mr. Townsend had both been admitted to Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. Mr. Beaumont was found to be suffering from leukemia and Mr. Townsend has Parkinson’s disease. Before beginning chemotherapy for his cancer, Mr. Beaumont, age 86, and Mr. Townsend, 77, decided to get married in the patient lounge of the hospital. Together for nearly four decades, the couple realized the importance of marriage – and specifically the protections that the institution of marriage provides – especially when both men are dealing with potentially life-threatening illnesses.
 
The hospital provided the couple with the clothes and flowers for the occasion – matching white sweat suits and yellow rose boutonnieres. A chef in the kitchen baked a wedding cake. A niece of Mr. Beaumont’s brought rings for her two uncles to select from. And with family, friends and hospital staff looking on, Mr. Beaumont and Mr. Townsend sat next to each other in their wheelchairs, held hands and vowed to stay together “until we are parted by death.”
 
These are the kinds of people who will be harmed if Minnesota decides to amend our constitution to deny some of its citizens the right to marry.
 
In the years since six states (including our neighbor to the south, Iowa, remember) and the District of Columbia, have legalized same-sex marriage, the earth didn’t stop revolving, the sun didn’t stop rising in the morning and not a single heterosexual marriage was diminished.
 
I look forward to the day when the Minneapolis StarTribune will be filled with just as many notices of loving gay and lesbian couples celebrating their marriages as now fill the pages of The New York Times. It will happen, Minnesota. And won’t it be great that couples who have built a life together, won’t have to wait until they are dying to see their relationships celebrated, honored and respected.

Defense of Marriage Act is Indefensible

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: February 26, 2011 - 9:21 AM
Under orders from President Obama, the federal government will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – the law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. The decision is being hailed as one more victory for lesbian and gay Americans, but the reality is that this is a win for all Americans, including conservatives.
What DOMA did when it was enacted 15 years ago by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Clinton, was to create a law that legally discriminated against a group of citizens. The law not only defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but it prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and it permitted states to not recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. Legislating discrimination against one group of Americans is bad policy for all Americans.
Jump ahead 15 years since the passage of DOMA and five states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Yet those couples, legally married in their home state or Washington, D.C., do not enjoy the same rights as legally married heterosexual couples in the United States do. A married gay couple from Iowa, for example, has no legal standing in Minnesota.
A legal marriage in one state has always been recognized in other states. Recognizing gay marriage does not diminish heterosexual marriage; it enforces it by establishing that the institution of marriage is protected for all Americans. It should not be tinkered with based on current political winds.
Similarly, our government should never cherry-pick which rights and privileges are awarded to which citizens. Under DOMA, gay couples legally married in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia, are not entitled to over 1,000 federal benefits that married heterosexual couples have. Legally married gay couples can’t file joint federal tax returns, collect survivor benefits from Social Security or avoid estate taxes when a gay spouse dies.
As a country, do we really want separate and unequal laws for different citizens? And if we do – if we allow discriminatory legislation like DOMA to stand – what will prevent some future generation from passing legislation that might discriminate against other groups of people?
Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” wrote: “Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” DOMA is an unjust law. It was time for our government to stop defending it.

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