Back from the Land of 10,000 Lakes

I’m happy to report that 35 more people are now trained to tell
their stories, stand up and be OUTSpoken!

This weekend, my fellow Program & Education Associate Ariana
Flores and I traveled to Minneapolis, MN to conduct our 15th
in-person OUTSpoken training
in just 2 years! Our new friends in Minnesota, as you might expect,
were extremely hospitable and a great crowd. Representatives from
major LGBTQ family and social justice organizations, such as
Rainbow Families,
Out Front MN, and aMaze, were present. They came to
learn new skills and how better to advocate for family equality.
Also in the room was Robert Curoe, co-author of
Are There Closets in Heaven: A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter
Share Their Story
, a great book about one family’s
reckoning with difference and how it’s made them stronger.

Minnesota is a great state for our families, relatively speaking.
Through various lower court decisions, second parent adoption has
become legal. And even though a marriage amendment is floated every
year, it doesn’t pass. The state was one of only two to receive an
A from the Gay,
Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
in it’s 2004 State
of the States Report.

What this means and what I told parents, family members and friends
at the training, is that Minnesota is in a great place to set the
tone and make even greater change. Just because there’s a statewide
policy banning discrimination against people based on their sexual
orientation and/or gender identity/expression doesn’t mean that
people don’t experience this discrimination every day. Once these
policies are in place, it’s up to people on the ground to make sure
they’re enforced. State officials should be responsive to
complaints, but they can’t be responsive unless complaints are

The most inspiring version of this story I’ve seen in a while is
the case we blogged about and took action on a few
months back. (Click here to read the original blogs.) When a
California couple looking to adopt found that the “leading”
adoption profiles website discriminated against them for being gay,
they invoked California antidiscrimination laws, which include
sexual orientation. And they won their case. had to
choose — to open their services to all prospective parents or stop
doing business in California.

I met great people in Minnesota — people who are already out there
telling their stories, trying to make change, but also people who
know that they can always strive to do this better and with a
community of supporters. It’s important to stay active and stay
vigilant in Minnesota — making sure that no new marriage
amendments pass, that no anti-family legislation is proposed and
passed. But it’s also important not to get too comfortable with the
relatively positive environment that’s been created. Make it
better, make it stronger, make it even more positive for our
families and for all people who experience discrimination.

I look forward to my next trip to Minnesota — it was a truly
inspiring endeavor!