'I'm Very Proud to Be a Minnesotan Right Now"
What was it like to pour your heart into the marriage amendment campaign and win—or lose?
As the campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families began his victory speech at St. Paul's River Centre on Election Night, a Southwest Minneapolis resident standing in the audience started to quietly weep.
"I'm very proud, very moved to be a Minnesotan right now," Florence Brammer told Patch, saying she was moved to get involved in the campaign by what she saw as an injustice done to her lesbian and gay friends in lifelong, legally-unrecognized relationships.
Brammer was one of the hundreds—if not thousands—of volunteers who poured heart and soul into the pro- and anti-amendment campaigns. That emotional involvement was on prominent display at the MN United victory rally Tuesday night. Every time St. Paul resident and recent St. Olaf College grad Kara Donnithorne heard a new vote tally that put the "Vote No" side ahead, she let out a whoop as she jumped three feet into the air.
Many volunteers at the event shared stories of that same passion getting the better of them during the campaign.
"We weren't supposed to be persuading people during get-out-the-vote phone banks, but I couldn't help myself" when she called a pro-amendment supporter. Donnithorne's friend Willa Simmet said. "I told her how the amendment would hurt me—a lot—and how it would keep me from having a traditional family. I think that's how I reached her and changed her mind."
That passion worked both ways, making defeat that much more disappointing for volunteers on the "Vote Yes" side.
Wednesday morning, Northfield resident Paul Reiland woke to news of the marriage amendment's defeat.
"It was disappointing, but the whole experience was disappointing," he told Patch, referring to losses by conservative candidates across the country.
Like volunteers on the opposite side, Reiland said he got involved when his neighbors put up signs opposing the amendment.
"I thought to myself 'We've got to get a sign,'" he said.
Driven to graphically assert his own political views by this small incident, Reiland went to a local Minnesota for Marriage campaign headquarters, and walked away with two dozen signs on a spur-of-the-moment decision to pass them out to like-minded friends. The event had tapped a well of emotion that was still evident the day after the elections.
"Before people go and call us haters and bigots, they should remember that they're talking about half of Minnesota," he said. "We're not some crazy Ku Klux Klan minority."
Despite the experience of working for what he described as an unenergetic campaign putting in "one tenth the effort" as the "Vote No" side, Reiland said the battle wasn't over, in the long run.
"The other side is clearly going to keep pushing," he said," whether that's pressuring judges to reinterpret the law or pushing their own amendment."