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.

Help Narrow the Field, Iowa

Posted by: Kevin Winge under Politics Updated: January 1, 2012 - 10:31 AM

Do us a favor, Iowa, and the morning after the Republican caucuses send Michele Bachmann back to Minnesota. It’s not that I relish Rep. Bachmann announcing another run for Congress and bringing her skewed worldview back home, but at least it removes her from the national stage. If Bachmann can’t get traction in Iowa, her home state, she will have no choice but to suspend her presidential campaign and return to the 6th District. Better to have Bachmann’s embarrassing comments limited to Minnesota, rather than having her spouting off all over the country.

And while you’re at it, Iowa, send Governor Rick Perry back to Texas, too. There, he could spend his days replaying that defining “oops” moment in the debate when he couldn’t remember which federal agencies he would close. Perhaps he could use his impressive fundraising skills to raise money for a “Rick Perry Debating School” at the University of Texas.
 
It’s too much to hope that you might send Newt Gingrich back on a Greek cruise or shopping at Tiffany, Iowa, but you can deliver a clear message that the Republican nomination will not be his. It seems we haven’t seen the last of the former Speaker, but help us, Iowa, to limit the damage Gingrich can do to the country. A distant finish might not force him out of the campaign, yet, but the writing would be on the wall.
 
What would the Iowa caucuses be without some surprises? A Rick Santorum or Ron Paul victory could only benefit Mitt Romney. Moderate Republicans around the country would quickly rally behind the former Massachusetts governor knowing that a Santorum or Paul name at the top of the Republican presidential ticket would ensure four more years of President Obama.
 
If you really want to surprise the nation, Iowa, provide former Utah Governor John Huntsman with a strong showing. He is the one candidate still standing in the Republican race who hasn’t had his 15 minutes of presidential primary fame. And, he is the one person in the race who might actually be presidential. It would be nice to hear from him before he is sent packing and Mitt Romney is declared the Republican nominee.

“Inappropriate Relationships” and Gay Marriage

Posted by: Kevin Winge under Politics Updated: December 18, 2011 - 9:19 AM

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Republican State Senator Amy Koch resigns as Majority Leader of the Minnesota Senate and announces she is not seeking reelection next year because of an “inappropriate relationship” with a male staff member. Koch, the proponent of all things Republican – like a constitutional amendment to ensure gays and lesbians can’t marry – turns out to not be the best spokesperson for the sanctity of marriage. Unless, of course, you don’t find it hypocritical that a married woman, with a child, can have an “inappropriate relationship” while denying others the right to marry.
 
With events like the Koch scandal, it is becoming increasingly clear that net year’s constitutional amendment is not about preserving marriage. If it were about preserving heterosexual marriage, let’s take a vote on outlawing behavior like “inappropriate relationships.” If it is about the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, let’s have a constitutional amendment outlawing divorce.
 
Let’s be clear, the constitutional amendment next year is about denying rights to a group of people based on sexual orientation while allowing heterosexual hypocrites to enjoy all of the privileges that come with marriage including, apparently, the occasional “inappropriate relationship” on the side. Aren’t you tired of the hypocrisy, Minnesota?
 
I am.

What if Christ Lived on Food Stamps?

Posted by: Kevin Winge Updated: November 19, 2011 - 9:35 AM

This year, like last year, I’m living on food stamps for the seven days before Thanksgiving. It’s a good way to draw attention to the increasing rates of food insecurity in the country and in Minnesota. More than that, it’s an annual reminder for me of just how fortunate I am that for 51 weeks of the year, I don’t have to think about where my next meal might come from and how much money I have to spend on food.

The challenge of having to stretch every dollar to buy as much food, and as much nutritious food as possible, is nothing compared to some of the criticism those of us who take the food stamp challenge receive.
 
A number of my friends and co-workers are also living on $30.25, the average amount that a Minnesotan might receive in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) support, for one week. You might think that no one would be upset by this activity, but you would be wrong.
 
There are those in our community who live in a Reaganesque world where no American goes to bed hungry at night. (They are probably the same ones who support the decision this week defining pizza tomato sauce as a vegetable for the school lunch program.) They tell us that people just need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job. The assumption, of course, is that everyone has bootstraps. And we all now how easy it is to get a job these days. These critics live in a land of plenty where food shelves are overflowing with food and government programs, like SNAP and WIC, just encourage laziness. 
 
Some of these critics, in the course of a conversation or an e-mail exchange, identify themselves as Christians. While I don’t doubt their devotion to their faith, I realize we sit in different pews.
 
I’ve always understood the verse in Matthew, “For I was hungry and you gave me food,” to mean just that – that Christians are called to feed the hungry. Just in case we miss the message, when the righteous question Christ as to when he was hungry, he responds by saying, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
 
All I can say is, it’s a good thing Christ wasn’t living on food stamps. He would have been disappointed in some of his followers.

A Threat to Marriage

Posted by: Kevin Winge under Society 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.

Legacy Funds Should Not Be Used to Build a Vikings Stadium

Posted by: Kevin Winge under Politics Updated: October 30, 2011 - 10:59 AM

I was opposed to the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment approved by Minnesota voters in 2008. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not opposed to public support of the environment and the arts. I think the money that the state sales tax has brought in to support clean water, parks, fish and wildlife habitat and the arts and cultural heritage, has been a good thing for the state. My opposition to the Legacy Amendment was born out of my concern that we were becoming much too lackadaisical in our eagerness to amend our constitution. I also questioned if a commitment to a 25-year sales tax was a sound economic decision.

Let’s remember just exactly what it was that was presented to Minnesota voters in November 2008 and what the majority approved. This was the question:
 
“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to dedicate funding to protect our drinking water sources; to protect, enhance and restore our wetlands, prairies, forest, and fish, game and wildlife habitat; to preserve our arts and cultural heritage; to support our parks and trails; and to protect, enhance, and restore our lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater by increasing the sales and use tax rate beginning July 1, 2009, by three-eighths of one percent on taxable sales until the year 2034.”
 
Now, Governor Mark Dayton, and other elected officials, have said that all options for funding a new Vikings stadium – including possibly using Legacy funds – should be on the table. To suggest that the construction of a sports stadium somehow meets the criteria of “cultural heritage” is absurd. It would be a clear violation of voter intent.
 
I’m not opposed to a small portion of public funds being used to build a new Vikings stadium. An economic argument can be made for the jobs a billion dollar project could create in the short-term and some additional, long-term economic benefits in the future. But if our elected officials want to support the stadium, they must find others ways to do so rather than attempting to use the Legacy Amendment as an easy fix.
 
Thankfully, Senator Dick Cohen of St. Paul has promised to bring a lawsuit should the state attempt to use Legacy funds for this purpose. The mere threat of a lawsuit should remove this option from consideration and Senator Cohen should be commended for his strong position on this issue.
 
Perhaps more can come from this than just a discussion on this particular constitutional amendment. Maybe, in the future, voters will consider all of the unanticipated consequences that can come from amendments to our state constitution.

Dear Archbishop Nienstedt:

Posted by: Kevin Winge under Society, Politics 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.

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