Lynn Osterman and a Moving Moment for Minnesota

Yesterday, the senate judiciary committee of the Minnesota State Legislature approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, moving it forward to a full congressional vote, likely to take place later this spring.

Sometimes I get moved by political events, both of Obama’s inauguration’s for example. And last Tuesday, there was this one testimony from former Republican state congresswoman, Lynn Osterman, that really did a number on me.

In the few minutes of her testimony, she wept and her words were stifled. It was a plea to pass the bill, but more to the point, it was her unfolding story as a woman seeking forgiveness from families and friends that she had a cast a vote against early on in her career. Her vote for the Defense of Marriage Act was one of political expedience, and ever since, she has lived in constant regret over it.

As she explains, she is the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister and knows every Biblical argument in the Book against gay folks. Yet, she made this compelling, and simple statement- no one had ever questioned the love of her parents as being something sinful. That love was never sinful. It was beautiful.

 

Maybe this moment hit me so hard because her tone was taken in that familiar Minnesota mom jargon heard around here by the local ladies baking bars or exclaiming in Uff-da! Perhaps, it was because growing up gay, I never thought anybody felt anything for me. That no straight white middle class Minnesota Republican woman would ever stand before the world, weep on my behalf and ask for my forgiveness.

It was powerful and dripped with authentic sincerity. And, as the blogger, “Slacktivist” notes,

 

“I have never seen anyone who described their former support for marriage equality as an oppressive weight or burden that they were later joyously relieved to be rid of. I have never seen anyone weep with remorse and regret for the votes they cast or the words they once spoke in support of equal rights. I don’t recall seeing anyone moving in that direction at all.

 

Instead, what I have heard from those who remain opponents of equality are their descriptions of the discomfort and reluctance they feel from taking a position they often say they wish they didn’t “have to” take — their half-apologizing assurances that they wish they could say otherwise, but that as much as it grieves them they are bound by an authority that supersedes their personal preference, their conscience, their sense of what would be more loving.”

 

Thank you for bringing this conversation back to people Lynn, for bringing it back to me. From one Minnesotan to another, you’re amazing. From one Christian to another, you’re a saint.

 

RR