Minnesota LGBT group supporting pro-marriage, anti-choice candidates

In news that is making me want to flip tables but isn’t particularly surprising, Minnesotans United for All Families (OH THE IRONY!), the state’s LGBT/marriage equality group, is using their PAC to support candidates that are anti-choice:

“We are truly saddened that the Minnesotans United PAC does not have our back when we need them,” said Sarah Jane Johnston, president of Minnesota National Organization for Women.

It’s the first sign of a fraying alliance among a once rock-solid coalition of 700 groups that Minnesotans United cobbled together to legalize same-sex marriage this year.

The shifting support could affect Minnesota’s legislative races and could have national implications. Same-sex marriage supporters have tried to convince uneasy legislators in other states that their vote on marriage will not sink their political careers.

Ah, yes! All families deserve to be able to choose exactly how those families are built and…wait what? Yes yes y’all, it’s happening: marriage, conservative institution that it is, is being taken up by conservatives who don’t give a shit about reproductive autonomy, racial justice, or really anything other than preserving their own wealth. And Minnesotans United? They don’t care what anyone thinks. They’re gonna get marriage by any means necessary! Even if they fuck over everyone else!

Ann Kaner-Roth, co-chairwoman of the Minnesotans United PAC, said the group has no plans to change course.

“We’ve been very transparent all along about a singular focus on gaining the freedom to marry for same-sex couples,” she said. “We were very laser-focused on this issue, and I think that is what brought together a coalition of such a broad base and interests.”

Who cares that lesbians and trans folks might need access to abortion? Who cares that identity does not equal behavior? Who cares that genderqueer and gender non-conforming folks are distinct targets of sexual assault, which may result in pregnancy? Who cares that BISEXUALS EXIST and are part of that LGBT and are having sex that could result in a pregnancy they don’t want? Or that trans folks are having sex that could result in pregnancy? Who cares that evidence points to queer and questioning girls and young women having higher risk of unplanned pregnancy? Not Minnesotans United!

While this is indeed completely absurd, for those of us who have been paying attention and critiquing marriage equality as a goal of the LGBT movement have been predicting this for years. Marriage, as I’ve pointed out here before – and many before me have pointed out all over the place – is ultimately a very conservative ask, one whose success is squarely dependent on the fact that it does not present any fundamental shifts in power or resources to those folks who most need it. In that way, it makes total sense for conservative legislators that do not support abortion access and other progressive issues to jump on the marriage equality bandwagon: they get to keep their heteropatriarchal values, wealth, and power, and maybe even gain some new (white, wealthy, well-behaved) gay supporters in the meantime.

If this doesn’t make my case that the reproductive justice movement – or ANY movement for social justice – shouldn’t model itself after the movement for marriage equality, I don’t know what will.

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/radicalhw/ Shannon Drury

    Thank you, Feministing, for boosting the signal on this. The amount of ridicule Minnesota NOW is getting in the local press and social media for speaking out about this issue has been appalling. People are talking to us like we’re children who have never attempted to discuss politics with the grown-ups before. UGH

  • megan.gamble

    Hey there. I worked on the Minnesotans United for All Families campaign, and I’d like to respond. MN United has always been about one thing and one thing only: the freedom to marry. It was our singular focus that brought republicans, democrats, unions, religious institutions, small and large businesses, and elected officials all to one table and gave us a historic win in 2012. Our messaging was so strict that during the 2011/2012 campaign we didn’t even allow ourselves to talk about the possibility for marriage after defeating the amendment. In MN United 2.0, we built upon our work and won the freedom to marry for all Minnesotans. It was amazing. But it could only have been done with all of us putting aside our differences and focusing on the one thing we agreed on. The Minnesota Independents didn’t join the coalition thinking we would stand up for their platform, General Mills didn’t join the coalition thinking we would look out for their best business practices, and womenwinning didn’t join thinking we would only support women candidates and elected officials.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am a full and passionate supporter of a women’s right to choose. I work for NARAL Pro-Choice America. I care a lot. I believe in pushing people and elected officials and keeping up the good fight. But I also believe in choosing my battles.

    • http://feministing.com/members/ruthieoo/ Ruth Osorio

      The problem with this position is that it assumes that MN United can hide behind its mission statement in the face of criticism, but that doesn’t hide the fact that the mission statement is flawed. The problem with only identifying ONE issue is that you aren’t actually representing the needs of the community you claim to protect. In the case of marriage, any organization that ONLY advocates for marriage equality is only advocating for LGB folks who want to get married. And you say that’s fine, and that we have to choose our battles. But the problem is that when we pick our battles, we are actually picking who we believe is more worthy of progress. MN United has decided that middle class LGB couples are the only gay folks worth protecting, leaving trans* folks, queer survivors of assault, undocumented LGBT individuals, and more. And maybe MN United thinks it’s okay to uphold a hierarchy based on gender identity, race, and gender in the name of marriage equality, but many other activists don’t.

      The history of social movements clearly shows that focusing on only one issue continues the subjugation of other groups, and often groups that the movement claims to speak for. The National American Woman Suffrage Association opposed the fifteenth amendment, granting black men the right to vote, because they were so focused on getting women the right to vote. But in their myopic focus on women’s suffrage, they left behind black women; after all, if women had the right to vote, but not black people, black women would still not be able to vote. The NAWSA was willing to leave behind fellow women to fulfill their one stated mission. And as a feminist, and especially as a white woman, that episode in our history makes me ashamed.

      So sure, MN United can hide behind its narrow stated objectives, but it cannot claim to be a justice-oriented organization. And as soon as it lends its support to causes that attack members of the very community it claims to advocate for, it loses its credibility and invites criticism.

  • http://feministing.com/members/korlamasters/ Korla

    Hey there – another former (and I’ll emphasize former – I speak for myself only) MNUnited person here. It’s worth noting that MNUntied is/was never Minnesota’s LGBT statewide organization – we were a campaign (first on a ballot initiative, then to pass marriage legislation) whose SOLE focus was marriage-related.

    Minnesota does have a statewide LGBT service/policy/advocacy organization, OutFront Minnesota. Its PAC does require that endorsed candidates be pro-choice.

    While MNUnited supporting anti-choice candidates may not be something to be proud of, neither is shoddy reporting on something this important.