In spite of and because of

I’m not voting for Obama “in spite of” my disappointment that he hasn’t done everything he promised in 2008: I’m voting for him because he’s worked on almost all of those promises and delivered more than I expected he could accomplish back then, considering the crazed opposition he’s faced. I’d love to give him the chance to finish the job.

I’m not voting for Romney: because he, along with the organizations and people that seem to support him the most, consistently have proposed bills or made policy statements that I oppose regarding basic healthcare, choice, women’s rights, abortion, welfare, social security, Medicare, taxes, the military, rape, the role of religion in government and law, the role of religion in our daily lives, the economy, the housing market situation, the priorities of this country, foreign policy, same-sex marriage, campaign finance, being gay, bullying, the national debt, the debt ceiling, the safety net, stem cell research, jobs, anthropogenic climate change, evolution, the Big Bang, the role of science in crafting good law, the role of science in our daily lives, pollution, First Amendment issues, Second Amendment issues, Fourteenth Amendment issues, the role of the judicial branch, the role of the executive branch, the role of the legislative branch, DOMA, the Bush tax cuts, Iraq, Iran, China, immigration, energy policy, the path to citizenship, Grover Norquist, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, social issues, the death penalty, the bailout, the role of government in disaster assistance, addressing the deficit, separation of church and state, unions, oil and energy production, drilling, national parks, sex education, AIDS education, abstinence-based education, foreign aid, Citizen’s United, voter ID, voter roll purges, alternative energy, public broadcasting, “intelligent design”, waterboarding, the war on drugs, education, child care, the morning-after pill, civil rights, equal pay for equal work, paying for education, the role of the EPA, the role of the FDA, the role of the US in the world, privacy, the ACLU, reasonable search and seizure, the composition of the Supreme Court, what religion this country was “founded on”, funding for the arts, school vouchers, “faith-based initiatives”, minimum wage, voter fraud, civil rights and pretty much everything Rick Santorum is in favor of.

Among others. I’m sure I missed a few.

So I guess I’m a “single-issue” voter.


Not fully baked

OK, let’s see if we can unpack this logic: in a conversation about the Voter ID amendment, I noted that I am not 100% against requiring an ID to vote, WITH THE HUGE CAVEAT that the priority has to be to make sure EVERYONE has a valid ID first, and is able to get/replace one quickly, free, and easily (including on the same day they vote so we can still have same-day registration). Special focus given to people for whom it would be a hardship or costly to get one, like the elderly, disabled, and military.

It is only AFTER that whole process is completed that you should be able to make it a requirement.

The response: “Well, that would be very difficult to do, it would take a long time and would be hugely expensive.”

Yes. Yes, it would. But the point, a perfect argument about why the current proposed implementation is so terrible, seemed to go completely over the other person’s head, in spite of the fact that they themselves had made it. That they had just made a great argument against the Voter ID Amendment while attempting to defend it didn’t seem to register, when only seconds before they had pointed out that the amendment wasn’t an onerous requirement because “everyone has an ID”.

Either everyone has an ID already, or it’s practically impossible and hugely expensive to get everyone an ID. You can’t make both arguments in the same conversation.

Vote No on the MN Voter ID amendment. It’s not fully baked.

Loud and clear

“My opinion isn’t influenced by those of the people around me”, said no one ever.

Yes, I know it’s a fashionable meme to decry the political posts and claim that we are all unique adorable independent iconoclasts who float above our friends’ and family’s opinions… but we’re not. We (myself included) are all influenced by the opinions of those around us, and that includes those opinions that are posted on Facebook and Google Plus.

And that is why we have had so many conversations in the past year discussing the marriage amendment, the voter ID amendment, and the political candidates. The fact is, your conversations and your posts DO change hearts and minds: the single greatest influence on how people vote on these issues is, in most cases, their exposure to the opinions of the friends and family members that surround them. We are tribal, communal creatures, and we LISTEN to each other.

That’s why it’s important to present these discussions and have these conversations. SO many conversations I’ve had this year have started with a comment or a post on FB or G+ or Twitter, and all of the ones I’ve had where someone has changed their mind have had a personal story behind them. Not a talking point from a TV host or a quote from a new article: a story about you, and about me.

In the last few days before the election, DO reach out to those around you and have a discussion about the reasons to vote No on the Marriage Amendment, the reasons to vote No on the Voter ID Amendment, and the reasons to vote for Barack Obama. You are a friend, you are a family member, and your voice, your experiences, the ways YOU will be hurt by the amendments and the reasons YOU have to vote are far more powerful than 30-second platitudes and misinformation put together by a focus group a thousand miles away.

Get out there, have the conversations, and get out the vote. It’s the reason we’re here.

And never tell me my voice doesn’t make a sound, because I can hear all of you loud and clear.


Support in Washington, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota

Today the Obama campaign issued a statement about the president’s support for the ballot campaigns to win same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland, and Washington. The campaign has already spoken out against a ballot measure in Minnesota to prohibit same-sex marriage. It’s a historic first: no sitting President before has ever made such a clear declaration of support.

In that context, I would like to repeat the words of playwright Doug Wright, posted on Facebook today:

“I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, ‘My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.’

It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you ‘disagree with your candidate on these issues.’

I would also like to remind you that if you justify your GOP vote by saying you’re “fiscally conservative but a socially liberal”, you fall under the same category as above. That phrase means “I’d really *like* for there to be a support network for people who need it and rights for those who deserve them, but only as long as I don’t have to pay for any of it.”

I called a 70-year old woman tonight in northern Minnesota, whose 86-year old gay brother is moving back from Florida to live with her. When she was 15 she wrote him a letter telling him that she knew he was gay, but that was OK and she still loved him. In spite of the fact that the rest of her family had rejected him and would have nothing to do with him. They stayed in touch throughout their whole lives, and now that he can no longer take care of himself, he’s moving back here. Back to his home, for the first time in over six decades.

She said “I just wish he could have been born 60 years later: he would have had the chance for so much more love and happiness in his life.”

She’s voting No. She made me cry.

Look me in the eye and tell me that you prefer to vote instead for a businessman who has made you a vague promise to give you a tax break. Before doing so, make sure you’re OK with not speaking to me in the future, because I require a minimum level of humanity from the people I talk to.

I made a new “NO” vote today

I made a new “NO” vote today. Don’t EVER tell me one person can’t make a difference in an election. From an email I just received:

Hi David,

We met through MN United around the South Minneapolis kickoff. You inspired me to get moving on US Citizenship and, I’m happy to report, I was sworn in yesterday.

I just wanted to thank you for being a catalyst in my process…

Booyah. And because of MN’s same-day registration, she can vote in November. THAT same-day registration, the one that helps make Minnesota the leader in voter turnout, the one that’s threatened by the Voter ID Amendment… which just gives you another reason to vote “NO” on that one too.

The best part of the whole thing? Today, Oct 19th, is the exact one-year anniversary of me becoming a U.S. citizen.

You can make a difference too. Eighteen more days to go: sign up over at MN United, come and be inspired, have some great conversations, and GET OUT THE VOTE AND VOTE NO TWICE!

Will you join me?

Dear friends: there are 30 Days left until the election.

Thursday, October 11th is National Coming Out Day. It is the event’s 24th Anniversary, a day in which many of the people we love and support decide to have what can be the most difficult and challenging conversations of their lives with their friends and families.

In support of and in solidarity with our GLBTQ friends and family members, I am asking all of my MN friends, regardless of orientation, to join me at the Minnesotans United for All Families’ Loring Park office (1629 Hennepin Ave, across from the Basilica) to reach out to voters who are still deciding to vote NO on the marriage amendment. Join me this Thursday at 6:30pm, and every Thursday from here until the election, and help us explain to Minnesota voters why a NO vote is necessary.

Yes, these are voter conversations that can sometimes be difficult for us. But they can also be exhilarating, inspiring and joyful. And on a day like National Coming Out day, we need to recognize that these voter conversations are FAR easier for us to have than those that our LGBTQ friends around us are having, on the same day, with their own families and friends. If you feel that you can’t call a voter and have this type of conversation because it’s “too hard”, then you MUST do it to recognize and celebrate the courage of the people who will be having much scarier and harder conversations with their families this Thursday.

By then there will be less than 30 days left in the campaign, and we need to have everyone coming together to work towards victory in November. Everyone means you: I have not seen a whole lot of my friends at these events, and while I know a lot of you support defeating this amendment, your NO vote is only the bare minimum required to do so. The No votes are NOT winning right now, and our MN Constitution will be fundamentally changed to reduce and eliminate rights for loving Minnesota couples unless we take further action today.

Will you be there with me? Or better yet, go to and sign up to make calls tonight and every Monday, or Tuesday or whatever day you can.

Let’s not make it to November 7th and regret the opportunity we wasted.