“How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves if he wants them around?”

In keeping with the nationwide GOP focus on job creation social issues, Republicans in Minnesota (my dearly beloved/often embarrassing home state) are taking advantage of their new majority in the legislature to push to get a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the 2012 ballot.

The measure is moving along quickly through the legislative process. But every step of the way some good Minnesotans are speaking out against it. Last week, a 24-year-old, straight, Republican woman argued that “equal rights is not a partisan issue” and basically told the GOP to stop being so old and out-of-touch. Very cool.

On Monday, Representative Steve Simon, with text-book Minnesotan niceness, asked his opponents to just consider this one question:

“How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves if he wants them around?”

And a new motto for LGBTQ rights was born! Score: Steve Simon: 1, Homophobes: 0.

Transcript after the jump.

Rep. Steve Simon:

“We have to be careful about trying to enshrine our beliefs, however religiously valid we may believe th…them to be, in the Minnesota constitution. And what I’m hearing today, and what I heard on Friday, was largely a religious justification for change in the Minnesota constitution. I don’t think that’s right, I don’t think it’s fair, I think it departs from our tradition.

The other thing, which I know makes some people squirm, but I think we have to discuss it, both during an election campaign, but here in the legislature too… is how much of homosexuality is nature, versus nurture. Is this something you learn or acquire, or is this something you are born with? Is this just another lifestyle choice like skateboarding or gardening, or is this something that’s innate with the human being.

And, I…I want to take a page from what I heard last Friday in the senate testimony, there was a member of the clergy, I…forgive me I can’t remember his name, and he said ‘you know what? Sexuality and sexual orientation are a gift from God.’ And I think that’s true. And I think the scientific evidence show more and more, everyday, that sexuality and sexual orientation are innate, and something that people are born with. And I would ask everyone on this committee, not today, not tomorrow, not next week, not even this year, but in a moment…uhh.. when you can be alone with your own thoughts, to ask yourself: ‘if that’s true, if it’s even possibly true, what does that mean for the moral force of your argument?’ Just ask yourself. Not now, in the glare of the capitol, or in caucuses and interest groups, but ask yourself: ‘if it’s true, that sexual orientation is innate, God-given, then what does it mean to the moral force of your argument?’ And I guess that, to put it in the vernacular, what I would ask is: how many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around?

[Pauses for applause]

[Other senate member asks the crowd to "please keep applause to yourselves"]

How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether the living of their lives the way they wish, as long as they don’t harm others, is a Godly and holy and happy and glorious thing? I’ve answered that for myself, I don’t think everyone has answered that for themselves, necessarily, in this room. But I’m comfortable with a society and a s…uh.. tradition that… that bends towards justice and fairness and wholeness and openness and compassion, and I do think, as others have said before me, more eloquently, that that’s where the arch of history is bending as well.

And I truly believe that in a generation, maybe not even a generation, but certainly many generations from now: if we pass this, if we put it on the ballot, if this becomes part of our constitution, history will judge us all very, very harshly. And I think, that the people who vote for this, today and in the future, umm… will have a…w…will, although their children and grandchildren can, and should be, very proud of them for service to the state of Minnesota, will on this issue, not be so proud. And there may even be some justifiable shame there as well. And I think that’s something we all have to… to think about and justify in our own consciences. So I strongly urge a ‘no’ vote. “

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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