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Mr. Speaker. Members. I want to start by saying thank you to all those who have committed themselves to bringing about marriage equality, especially Rep. Clark and Sen. Dibble who have spoken out from their hearts, I believe out of a strong desire to live in accordance with their values. I begin by saying that I respect the sanctity of marriage and what it means to various individuals and groups. In Ojibwa culture, we believe that sharing a life with another is a sacred responsibility. Individual couples may get married in the Wedigaywin lodge by a pipe ceremony that involves lighting a small fire, feeding each other, sharing water and sharing the pipe. This Ojibwa ceremony has existed since time immemorial and it will continue regardless of what we decide here today. This bill is about marriage equality under the law.

I have always resisted the idea that minority groups including the LGBT community need to be included within the existing legal, political and social frameworks rather than changing such frameworks for themselves. In other words I object to the notion of equality with a dominant group. Therefore my hope is that marriage equality will no longer be defined solely on the terms of heterosexuals because it promotes assimilation and the way to gain legal rights rather than representing a challenge to the values that predominate in the dominant culture. Of course equality with those who enjoy the privilege to marry is entirely appropriate when it eliminates the extreme hardships of unequal treatment or to achieve particular goals as this bill does but it’s important to me how we frame marriage equality.

I realize my discussion of equality and privilege is far beyond the scope of this bill so I will tell you why I support this bill. I support this bill because it recognizes that marriage is dynamic and that marriage is a human good with certain inherent requirements that the state does not create but should recognize and support in all forms. I believe this is the first step in improving the ways in which members of the LGBT community are represented and treated.

Minnesota State Representative Susan Allen, during today’s House floor debate on the freedom to marry bill (which passed). That middle paragraph? Next level. So proud of my rep!
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