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Archive for campaign

fishing in the blue ocean: the minnesota marriage amendment

< by Mitra >

The Minnesota same-sex marriage ban rapidly became the highest-profile statewide issue of 2012.


Because no matter where you stand, everybody knows someone who’s gay. Even if you don’t know they’re gay.

The Minnesota win strategy? Have uncomfortable conversations.

If you’re not familiar with Minnesota culture, this is total insanity.

Still, all great madness has a method. You see, the power of organizing is that you can fish in “the blue ocean.” Steve Jobs coined this term in the early years of Apple, referring to products that were all competing in the same market. It was a red ocean – a “market” frenzied with the blood of violent sea creatures all vying for survival. Steve wanted to fish in the blue ocean – the calm, wide, open sea – where no one else was trying to go.

So that’s exactly what we did.

Over the course of 18 months, Minnesota straight and gay folks canvassed the least traversed counties in the state, asking voters two things: How do you feel about gay marriage? And, do you know anyone who is gay?

For thousands of voters, this was literally the first time anyone had asked. Across the state, we talked about divorce, coming out, living in fear. We talked about rejection on both sides – for loving men or women; for believing there was only one right way to love. We invited people of faith into our movement, asking undecided Catholic and Christian voters about their beliefs and marriages, unpacking passages of the Bible – all with the goal of understanding, and moving hearts as well as minds.

In a matter of 18 months, our state turned a culture of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into “Do Ask, Tell All.”

In the final minutes of Election Night, the campaign team gathered in a back room. Campaign manager Richard Carlbom gave the final directive: No matter what, a public statement was going to be made at 1:45 a.m.

He was interrupted by an aide coming in. AP had just called the victory.

On November 6, 2012, Minnesota became the first of 30 states to defeat this amendment. We did it by casting our lines into the Blue Ocean of politics — believing, unlike others, that we could have a respectful conversation about something as personal and sacred as marriage with total strangers. Together, we voted to keep the conversation about gay people open in Minnesota — so that, as humans, we can continue to support and understand each other even more.