On November 6, voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington affirmed that gay and lesbian couples should have the right to marry, while voters in Minnesota prevented their state constitution from being amended to enshrine inequality. In an article published yesterday, CNN journalist Wayne Drash highlighted what these victories mean for supporters living in those states.
Lori and Jeff Wilfahrt’s son, Andrew, was the first openly gay soldier killed in Afghanistan after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. In their home state of Minnesota, the Wilfahrts campaigned against the proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman. They see it as a way of honoring their son’s memory and of protecting the rights of all citizens. Lori says, "To me, in some ways, it's the last thing I can do for him."
Outside Seattle, Wash., Michael Clark and his partner of over 15 years anxiously awaited their chance to vote to make marriage equality legal in their home state. "It really felt like it was a vote for dignity and respect,” said Clark. Though they married in Canada about 10 years ago, Clark and his husband are excitedly awaiting December 6, the day they are legally married in Washington.
Mark Ellis has been involved in the Maine Republican party since the 1980s, but the racial discrimination he faced growing up as an adoptee from the Philippines in one of the United States’ whitest states deeply impacted his perspective on inequality. He says that his “vote comes from the simple notion that acknowledges the powerful, positive potential [that] loving and committed couples hold for their families, communities, and society."
Rev. Barbara Kershner Daniel is the pastor at the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ in Frederick, Maryland. Their parent denomination, The United Church of Christ passed a resolution in 2005 affirming marriage equality; in 2007, Rev. Daniel’s church voted to become an affirming congregation, meaning that LGBT people are welcomed into all aspects of church life. Last year, Rev. Daniel stayed on the sidelines when conservative faith leaders spoke against marriage equality in Maryland. This year she vowed to speak up. She cofounded AMEN! (Advocating Marriage Equality Now!) and reached out to the electorate through social media, phone banking, and knocking on doors.
Rev. Daniel’s passion comes, in part, from regret. Twenty five years ago, at her first pastoral post, a fellow minister asked her to officiate a ceremony for him and his partner. She declined, and has wondered why ever since. She has come full circle since then; on January 5, she will marry a gay couple. They have been together for 25 years.
Wayne Drash emphasizes the range of people who have come together to support marriage equality. They are gay and straight, Democrats and Republicans, religious and non-religious. The common factor is that they see all people as human beings deserving of equality.