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Kevin Winge

Executive Director, Open Arms of Minnesota

An Open Letter to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak


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 Opponents of the Supreme Court's Decision on DOMA

Dear Opponents of the Supreme Court’s Decision on DOMA:
Yesterday the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), meaning legally married gay couples will have the same federal rights as married straight couples.
And today, the sun rose and we woke up, brushed our teeth, had a cup of coffee and got on with our day. Just like we did the day before the DOMA decision. Just like we will do every day after the DOMA decision.
The sky didn’t fall. Heterosexual marriages were not diminished.
While I am one of the Americans who is celebrating the Supreme Court decision, I know – all to well – what it is like to be on the losing side of judicial decisions, as well as the losing side of legislation and elections. At times it has stung. At times it has hurt. And at times it has made me angry. But each time I’ve been on the losing side of an issue, I’ve moved on, because that is what we do in a democracy when the voters, the legislators or the courts have had their say.
As opponents of same-sex marriage, it might be too soon for you to move on. You might need more time to process the seemingly fast pace of change for LGBT people. Maybe, over time, when you realize that the world didn’t stop with the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA, and you see the joy that this decision has brought to millions of Americans, your opposition can evolve into acceptance and maybe even support.
After all, when you strip away the legal language around the Supreme Court decision, you realize that the case was really all about love. Love is a powerful force. It nearly always triumphs. It triumphed again this week.