Randi and Phil Reitan are Eden Prairie residents and longtime LGBT allies. Below, they share a little about their family and their fierce opposition to the marriage amendment this fall.
Lavender Magazine: How has your experience as a parent influenced your views supporting marriage equality?
Randi Reitan: Phil and I have been blessed with a wonderful marriage. This July we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. One of the greatest joys we shared as parents was watching our 3 oldest children find love and get married.
We want our gay son Jacob to have the same experience when he finds a wonderful man to be his partner in life. We want him to get married like we did and each of his siblings did. We want him to celebrate his love with a wedding and grow old with the man he loves.
LM: Why is it important to defeat this amendment in Minnesota?
RR: This amendment would use the Minnesota constitution to deny rights rather than grant them. It would be devastating for a state that prides itself as a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
One of the blessings of working for gay rights for 14 years is watching our country move in a welcoming direction. Progress is being made because people are talking and sharing their stories. This amendment is about stopping that great conversation.
LM: As a Minnesotan, how do you think this amendment would change your community?
RR: We worked hard last year to keep the amendment off the ballot because we knew what a campaign like this would do to Minnesota. I worry about young gay teens who will hear such hurtful rhetoric about their lives. The most recent example, is the marriage presentation by the Archdiocese at De LaSalle high school where students were in tears.
LM: How has your faith shaped your support for marriage equality?
RR: Our faith is central to our life. It is a faith that loves and includes all people, that looks to the love and gracious welcome of Jesus.
The discrimination Jacob faced after he came out made us activists. We felt the pain as parents when a pastor in our Lutheran denomination said it was sick and sinful to be gay. He told us our son would live a dark sad life of sin if he didn’t change. It was important to us as parents and as Christians to confront those untruths. That is why we told our story in the film, For the Bible Tells Me So. When the film was released, we heard from people across the country who, for the first time, heard God’s love spoken to them as a gay person.
We must confront the anti-gay messages in this amendment battle. We must see sexual orientation as a gift from God and that marriage is a strong foundation for all families. There are many faith communities that welcome all couples to make promises of faithfulness and love. May they speak their welcome loudly.
LM: Is there additional advice you would give to get involved in the movement to ensure marriage is respected for all couples?
RR: When Jake first came out, we needed to first educate ourselves. We watched Jake start the first gay straight alliance at his high school and we knew we also needed to work for equality. Jacob led us. We encourage young people to lead their parents on this issue.
There are many opportunities to be involved and it is critical that we act now. Last May when we first knew this amendment would be on our ballots, I ordered 1,000 rainbow stick flags to share with people. I wanted people to plant them in their summer flower pots letting their neighbors know their home was one that celebrated marriage equality. I was overwhelmed with requests for them and ordered 500 more. One woman walked her neighborhood and had conversations with each of her neighbors as she offered them a flag.
Philip makes a point to have a conversation with every client that comes to see him. They walk away knowing their attorney has a gay son and Philip wants marriage equality for him. It is important to find a way to have the conversations that need to take place. Hearts are moved by personal stories. There has never been a time more important for Minnesotans to be involved in a movement because this amendment would forever deny marriage to same-sex couples.
For more information on opportunities to get involved and ensure others Vote No on this hurtful amendment, contact Minnesotans United for All Families at www.mnunited.org or 651-330-6852.