Metro Moms Vow to Defeat Marriage Amendment, One Flag at a Time
Opponents of the Constitutional amendment defining marriage as "between one man and one woman" are winning the fund raising battle.
The group Minnesotans United for All Families--the largest group against the amendment--raised $3.8 million in the first part of this year. It now has a total of $5.4 million.
The largest group in favor of the amendment, Minnesota for Marriage, collected $620,000 for a total of $1.5 million.
When it comes to how, and where, the marriage amendment battle is being fought, look no further than the cul de sac down your street. In fact, some married moms in Eden Prairie who are fervent opponents of the amendment are taking their cause door to door, handing out some colorful gifts to help make their case.
The gay community calls them rainbow flags. You usually see them in the more urban areas of the Twin Cities but thanks to these ladies, they're now they're popping up in yards and in windows in the west metro--places some never expected.
On Thursday, Wendy Ivins and Maureen Henderson, neighbors for more than a decade, knocked on the door of another nearby resident in hopes she would accept one of the flags. They weren't sure how Barb McMurtry, a senior citizen, would react.
They were pleasantly surprised.
"I'm proud of 'em that they're doing it," said McMurtry. "I probably wouldn't have done it, but I support 'em."
Sentiments like that have galvanized Ivins and McMurtry. In the last two months they've knocked on nearly 100 doors in their neighborhood; they say the vast majority have accepted the flags willingly. About half have hung them somewhere publicly visible.
"These flags are about conversation, not confrontation," said Henderson, quoting from an email that Ivins had sent out to their neighbors when their flag campaign began. "One person can make a difference. I really believe in that," Henderson continued. "And I also believe in the strength of talking to my neighbors. Generally, if you're sincere and talking from your heart, people will respect you."
Henderson is Presbyterian, Ivins is Catholic. But their differences stop there. They've united to defeat the marriage amendment. "If this passes," Ivins said, "it means that one religion dictates policy for everybody. That to me is just not religious liberty."
Of course, some west metro religious leaders believe the women's mission is misguided. According to Pastor Jeff Evans of Christ Church Twin Cities (who supports the amendment), "We think they're on a path that is contrary to what God's word clearly says, as far as marriage is concerned. It's sad. We pray for them. It's not enough to say 'We want to accept all people. We want to just let anything go.' We have to ask what is the truth of the matter."
Evans thinks the flag crusade might backfire. He believes the very visible presence of all the gay rainbows might actually convince people (who believe marriage should remain only between a man and a woman) that their "side" is losing steam. They might be encouraged to get out and vote, he says, when they otherwise wouldn't.
Yet then there's Henderson and Ivins' neighbor Jerry Johnson. He says he and his partner have always felt at home in Eden Prairie--but never as much as now.
"I think as a gay man you are always trying to fit in," he explained. "I never wanted to put a gay flag out because the people who need to know, know. So to have this public display is a little overwhelming. It's a very special feeling actually."
And so, the flag flying frenzy grows. Ann Brusseau mounted one outside her Eden Prairie door as well. "I think people's minds are being opened to the possibility of everybody having equal rights with this (flag) presence in the neighborhood," she said. "People are starting to change their point of view, give it some serious thought, and consider the option."
As for Barb McMurtry, she's already made up her mind.
"I've never felt any animosity towards the gays," she said. "They're people just like the rest of us."
She says she'll be displaying her new rainbow flag in hopes it somehow conveys the exact message she wants to share with the marriage amendment supporters.
"I just think they're small minded," she said. "I think it's a waste of time and money."
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at email@example.com