On Saturday night, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted 70-62 in favor of putting a proposed constitutional ban on same sex marriage up for a public vote in 2012. Bear in mind, same sex marriage is already illegal in this state. So when I go out and vote on this constitutional amendment, my choices are going to be: A) Continue to discriminate against GLBT families or B) Codify that discrimination into my state's primary document. Good times.
But this post isn't about how disgusting I think it is to put a minority's civil rights up for a vote. No. This post is about offering my genuine thanks and appreciation to the two Minnesota Republicans who were brave enough to speak out against the amendment. Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove—Thank you both. If I wasn't absolutely certain it would set off some kind of security panic, I'd mail you both a box of my best home made bars.
Kriesel, in particular, gave a passionate, moving speech explaining why he changed his mind on marriage equality. The turning point: When he was almost killed while on a tour of duty in Iraq. Quoting from the video above:
"It made me think about this issue and say, 'you know what, what would I do without my wife?' She makes me happy. Life is hard. We're in a really tough time in our nation's history. Happiness is so hard to find for people. So they find it. They find someone who makes them happy. And we want to say, 'Oh, you can be together. You can love that person. But you can't marry them.' That's wrong. That's wrong, and I disagree with it.
... This amendment doesn't represent what I went to fight for. Hear that out there? [referencing protesters in the rotunda] That's the America I fought for. And I'm proud of that. ... If there was a "Hell No" button right here, I would press it. But, unfortunately, I just have "Nay," and that's the one I'm going to press.
If this moved you as much as it moved me—even if you aren't a Minnesotan—I'd encourage you to send a quick thank-you email to Rep. Kriesel.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.