HOPKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — A year before a vote on a proposed ban against gay marriage, both sides are gearing up for what’s already becoming a heated debate.
U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison held a town hall meeting in Hopkins Wednesday night. The LGBT community and their supporters are taking recent poll results as motivation to rally.
Congressman Ellison hosted a panel of those closest to the cause. Among them, State Senator Scott Dibble.
“As a Senator, as an out-Gay Senator, as a married Senator, part of my job is to engage my colleague, and build that relationship of respect and trust,” Dibble said.
Also on the panel was teacher with the Anoka-Hennepin District, Jann Garofano. The district has been in the national spotlight for its controversial “neutrality policy,” restricting discussion about LGBT issues.
“We were not allowed to talk about LGBT issues at all. How very much I disagreed with that as a person, and as well, just a person with a heart,” Garofano said.
In the audience was one parent listening closely. Tammy Aaberg lost her son, who attended Anoka High School, a year and a half ago to suicide.
“I didn’t find out until 6 weeks after he died what he went through at school,” Aaberg said.
Aaberg said this fight against the ban is about more than just marriage, it’s about setting a precedent for how we treat people.
“All the rights that they don’t have, it affects all the way down to the youth,” Aaberg said.
Tuesday’s Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows more people right now want the ban: 48 percent to 43 percent. The poll also showed far more seniors vote for the ban than those under 35.
Ellison said he believes those seniors can and will be swayed in the year ahead.
“A lot of our seniors are the people who saw Jim Crow destroyed, who saw women’s rights come into play, and this is a generation that is open-minded and fair, and I just think we got to talk to people,” Ellison said.
WCCO-TV reached out to the group “Minnesota for Marriage” to get the other side. They said over the next 12 months, they will seek to share with all Minnesotans why marriage between a man and woman plays an indispensable role in the well-being of both children and society.