I'm so proud of my state right now.
About two years ago, after a Republican dominated Minnesota legislature put an anti-gay-marriage amendment on the ballot, Grant Stevensen, the pastor of Spirit of Truth Faith Community, said to himself, "This can't be happening in Minnesota." And he did something about it. He helped organize communities of faith in Minnesota to foster conversations about marriage. I worked closely with Grant for a good part of last year, helping to foster conversations on this topic among members of the Latter-day Saint community in Minnesota. Grant must be pleased right now.
What is amazing to me is that less than a year after Minnesota rejected that ballot measure, our legislature has passed a bill that will recognize the marriages of gay couples in Minnesota. I never expected it to happen so fast.
History is full of ironies. One is that the conservatives who forced that anti-gay-marriage ballot measure on Minnesotans sparked one of the most broadly based, widest-ranging grass-roots campaigns in the history of the state. Tens of thousands of volunteers got on the phone and talked to perfect strangers, or talked in person to neighbors, friends, family, fellow parishioners and co-workers about marriage and about gay families. Over a million conversations were counted by the campaign. Probably many more took place.
The result? At the start of the campaign, a narrow majority of Minnesotans said they were opposed to granting full marriage rights to gay couples. At the end of the campaign, enough Minnesotans had changed their minds to defeat the amendment.
Lots of Minnesotans were mad at the conservative legislature for doing nothing, basically, but putting two negative amendments on the ballot. So when they tossed out the anti-marriage amendment, they tossed out the rascals who inflicted it on us and replaced them with a solid Democratic majority. That Democratic majority today delivered to us the passage of HF 1054 and SF 925, "Marriage between two persons provided for...." Governor Mark Dayton has promised to sign it into law tomorrow.
It will go into effect August 1, 2013 -- 18 days before Göran's and my 21st anniversary.
On November 5, 2008, I was walking down the Skyway in downtown Minneapolis, fighting back tears of pain and anger. It wasn't until fairly late in the day that enough election results in California had come back to confirm beyond reasonable doubt that Prop 8 had passed. I wondered what it would mean for Göran's and my marriage, which we'd held on July 25, 2008 in Riverside, California, surrounded by my entire immediate family, and witnessed by our 16-year-old foster son Glen.
I was angry. But piercing through the anger was the still, small voice of the Spirit telling me: "Don't be angry. Don't be afraid. Everything will be well. Everything will be made right."
I realized today how very literally that message from the Spirit has proven to be true. In the vote in Minnesota today, everything is being made right.
Prop 8 turned out to be what the Spirit -- through that peace-shattering election result -- promised me it would be: a turning point. A blessing in disguise.
Because of Prop 8, literally millions of conversations have been taking place, among Mormons and among Americans of all faiths.
We're still waiting on the Supreme Court ruling that will tell us whether Prop 8 ultimately stands or falls. But regardless of that ruling, it seems to me that a watershed has been passed. Gay couples in California will be able to marry, perhaps sooner than they think, one way or another.
Marriage came to me and my husband here in Minnesota, much sooner than I ever would have dreamed one year ago.
My husband Göran is home from work today, under the weather.
He was sleeping when the flood of exuberant messages started piling up in my Facebook feed, announcing the election results.
I went into the bedroom and kissed him gently on the forehead.
"It passed," I said.
He woke up and smiled. "We're legal now?" he asked.
"Not quite yet. The governor is signing it tomorrow. And it doesn't go into effect until August 1. But, yes, we'll be legal soon enough."
"Good." He kissed me and went back to sleep.
For right now, that's celebration enough for me.
That, and thinking about our son Glen's upcoming wedding to his fiancé Will in September 2014.