Planning the next step in marriage equality

MARSHALL – About 15 students gathered at Southwest Minnesota State University on Tuesday night to hear plans for the next step in the marriage equality campaign.

“This is a presentation by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) about what’s next with the marriage amendment,” said student organizer Katie Langel, a sophomore from Remsen, Iowa.

The event was part of a week-long series of events to highlight inclusiveness in the university community.

“We had events all week,” said Anjelica Burghardt, a junior from Watertown, S.D. “Tomorrow (Wednesday) it’s about gender stereotypes, Thursday about ability-disability.”

Tuesday’s presentation was about keeping the momentum of the defeat of the proposed marriage amendment to the state constitution in the November election, which would have banned same-sex marriage if passed.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10 a.m. State Senator Scott Dibble (DFL) and State Representative Karen Clark (DFL) are going to introduce bills for marriage equality at the Capitol,” said Sue Morton, president of the PFLAG Marshall-Buffalo Ridge chapter. “Our goal tonight is to talk about the accomplishments of November 6, 2012, how the no vote was accomplished, and how we narrow the gap between straight and gay marriage equality.

Morton outlined strategy and tactics for a campaign to approach and influence state legislators to vote for the proposed bill by the end of the legislative session.

“Why do we need to pass a bill now?” Morton said. “Why not go to a lawyer and get power of attorney and medical power? Because it’s not enough, it’s not equality.”

Morton elicited suggestions from the audience, which included: e-mail campaigns, phone banks, handwritten letters, postcard campaigns, lobbying at the Capitol and approaching legislators at town meetings where legislators go during the break in the session to sound out popular opinion.

“The goal has to be realistic,” Morton said. “You have to have an audience that’s approachable, and you have to approach them in a civil manner. Argumentation doesn’t work.”