7 Minnesotans who testified in favor of the freedom to marry during committee hearings
March 12, 2013
Update 3:55 - The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the freedom to marry by a vote of 5 to 3! The House Civil Law Committee has not yet voted.
Today, bills that would extend the freedom to marry to loving and committed same-sex couples in Minnesota faced committee hearings in the Minnesota House and Senate. The committee hearings and votes are the first steps toward advancing the marriage bills, which Minnesotans United for All Families has been advocating for this year.
This morning, a wide array of voices spoke out in support of the freedom to marry in the House Civil Law Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sons and daughters of same-sex couples, same-sex couples themselves, and supportive politicians have raised their voices in support of extending the freedom to marry to all couples in the state to protect all families. Here's a look at seven people who testified in favor of the freedom to marry during these committees:
"I can tell you from experience that you will have to live knowing that a 'No' vote is not fair, it's not respectful, and it's not equal. I blew my vote, and I'm imploring you to please get this right."
Osterman, who hails from New Hope, MN, testified before the House Civil Law Committee. She served as a Republican representative in the MN House beginning in 2002, and cast a vote against marriage for same-sex couples in 2004. Her moving testimony explains how deeply she regrets the vote. She said: "I cast a politically expedient vote in favor of DOMA. And I have regretted that ever since. ... Nothing in my life says it's OK to treat people differently than how I would like to be treated: Fairly, respectfully, equally. And naturally, what this conversation is about, whether you believe in big government or small, it's: Do you believe in fair? Respectful? Equal? Is it ever OK to say, 'Except for those people'? ... Voting 'no' today, this session, might seem politically expedient. But I can tell you from experience that you will have to live knowing that a 'No' vote is not fair, it's not respectful, and it's not equal. I blew my vote, and I'm imploring you to please get this right. Minnesota citizens just want you to lead." Watch video of Osterman's moving testimony HERE.
Dr. Chip Martin and Mr. Bill Chaffee
"In our daughter's eyes, we are a family just like any other."
The couple from St. Cloud, MN spoke lovingly about their two children, Landon and Olivia, saying, "We are a family just like any other." They urged the committee to advance the freedom to marry and explained, "We look forward to the day when we can walk down the aisle in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of God, with Landon as our ring bearer and Olivia as our flower girl."
Jim Lawser and Duane Bandel
"Marriage is a term that is universally understood, and no term explains the relationship between two people any better."
The Minneapolis, MN couple spoke about their nearly 30 years together as a couple. The men shared their story with Freedom to Marry last year in the months leading up to the November 2012 election, were among the Minnesotans to testify this morning. They spoke out about how they married in Canada on their 20th anniversary, how they wish that marriage was respected by the state of Minnesota, and how they need the security of marriage in order to protect Duane, who faces health complications from AIDS. Read their story from last fall HERE.
"Marriage sets an example of longterm, faithful commitment. It helps couples honor their commitment until death."
Kate testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee alongside her wife and partner of 32 years, Marianne. They joined in civil union when Vermont first allowed same-sex couples to do so. Kate said, "Our love and commitment were finally legally recognized somewhere, but it wasn't in our home." She went on to explain that after 25 years of being together, she and Marianne married in Canada, but "Then we returned to Minnestoa, and we were hit with the reality that our marriage was no longer recognized when we were processed separately at immigration." She and Marianne concluded their testimony by saying, "Recognizing our marriage and allowing other couples like us to marry doesn't redefine marriage - it allows us to honor the tradition of marriage."
"Employers can only do so much - public policy needs to catch up with public attitudes and public realities."
Horner, a public relations veteran and former candidate for MN governor, is the head of a new PR firm in Minneapolis. He made the economic case for the freedom to marry in his speech. He said: "Economic growth depends on attracting the best and the brightest workers. Over the years, we have fared well in this competition for talent. Young, educated professionals from around the country have migrated to Minnesota because of the many assets we offer. Talented professionals came and stayed in Minnesota for another reason though: They found innovative employers who are among the nation's leaders in creating diverse, welcoming workplaces. In particular, gay and lesbian couples found a home in which they could prosper, raise families, and become a part of a supportive community. Now, however, compelling data have concluded that communities with welcoming environments are most appealing to the majority of all young, well-educated professionals. Employers can only do so much - public policy needs to catch up with public attitudes and public realities. Treating all Minnesotans equally by extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples is the right thing to do - but it is also the smart thing to do."
The Reitan Family
"We want for Jacob what has been so precious to us over the last 40 years."
You hold in your hands a very special responsibility. This is Jake, our youngest. We love Jake so very much. We come today as a family with dreams that one day soon, Minnesota will grant Jake the freedom to marry. We want for Jacob what has been so precious to us over the last 40 years. We want Jacob to have the joy of a wedding. We want him to have the firm foundation that a marriage brings to a family. And we want the societal support that comes with marriage. Watch video of their testimony HERE.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson
"As a CEO, I can tell you that it does not work to have second-class citizens in any corporation or any state."
The former CEO and chairwoman of Carlson Companies, who last year spoke out against the proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment in Minnesota, took the chair again to support marriage. She said: "It's now time to finish what we started. As a business owner, Minnesota cannot afford to disadvantage itself in the workplace, particularly among the next generation of workers - those who research shows favor the freedom to marry 2 to 1. As a CEO, I can tell you - it does not work to have second class citizens in any corporation or any state. So I'm here today to talk about business, but also about the unfinished business - we must fully live up to the Minnesota values of inclusiveness and human dignity."