Here is my morning: I’m seated on a Bolt Bus packed in next to my neighbor, squinting away from the sun with a smuggled cat in a backpack between my feet, having earlier received a note telling me to leave my “filthy junk” in my own apartment. This is not how I like to start my Fridays. However, my spirit can’t be broken! It is officially election week. A momentous time in the lives of American’s where we get to exercise one of the greatest democratic rights we have; cast our vote for the leaders of our nation and express our stance on constitutional issues.
This year more than any other I researched each question that would be on my ballot. A task that in the past seemed cumbersome and extraneous suddenly seemed empowering. With age I’ve found confidence in my beliefs, the ability to have an open an educated dialogue with peers, and the incomparable feeling of taking action for what I believe. If you haven’t yet checked out what will be on your ballot I encourage you to do so here.
So, this morning I headed home to Baltimore to cast my vote in Charm City, the place I was born and raised and spent the last three years of my life. Before my trip home, I had an exceptionally democratic week. There are 4 states that have a marriage equality issue on the ballot this upcoming election: Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State. Each state is battling for different rights using complex language that would get this recovering “Gifted and Talented” woman confused on a good day. The purpose of this post isn’t to explore the complexities or even the merits of each proposed amendment, but to share with you what I’m doing about what I believe in. If you’d like to read more about state laws, head to Freedom to Marry States page.
Last Thursday I volunteered my evening for Freedom to Marry, a non-profit organization working to end federal marriage discrimination. The experience was grueling, challenging and exceptionally rewarding. I spent 3 hours calling on behalf of Minnesotans United for All Families at a phone bank coordinated by Freedom to Marry. Armed with a brief training, basic script, and my convictions, I sat down to dial. It is hard to prepare for the responses you hear on the phones. I began my conversations with an introduction, asking each individual if they had a moment to discuss with me their stance on same-sex marriage. Responses varied, but not much. There was cursing, hateful tones, and even more hang-ups. But out of 48 calls made, the 7 stimulating conversations and two persuasions were worth it.
My naiveté was really showing that Thursday evening; I couldn’t believe out of my anyone when asked why they were against same-sex marriage would openly admit they had never thought about it before. As astounding as that is for me I was happy to have those conversations. Happy to make people think. We could all be improved by a little more reflection in our lives.
I would have never imagined how flustered you can get during these calls. No matter the strength of your argument or passion in your belief, when emotions get going I found it nearly impossible to articulate the very things I know in my heart to be true – for all people love is important and you don’t get to choose who you love.
At the phone bank I met some quality people, interesting and diverse. I was happy to have the chance to participate actively in my democracy. Perhaps this is something I can pursue actively in the future, not just during election season.
But, limiting my activism to direct service wouldn’t suffice for this aspiring fashionista. I knew I needed to make a statement for my trip to the polls. So, earlier this week I went to Bliss Spa for the Presidential Minx manicure as featured on the Today Show.
In order to apply the Minx product, you warm the stickers on a lamp and then apply when sticky. Imagine a window decal. My nail artist, repeatedly joked in an indecipherable accent, “oof, don’t get too close to the lamp, we don’t want to burn Obama.” And would giggle to herself. We engaged in a short, but interesting dialogue about politics, NYC and Sandy. I find with a patient ear, you learn a lot by asking other people about their beliefs. Start with listening.
On my walk home from the east side I encountered a small snafu, I can only assume Sandy was responsible for. I knew it was imperative I have someone photograph me giving this sign a high-five with my ‘bama nails, but who? Do I trust anyone to take a photo and not my precious phone? No…
I waited until someone arrived with significantly better clothes than I. I could only hope she would have a fancier phone, perhaps diamond encrusted and want nothing more than to hot potato mine back to me once the photo was taken…
To conclude my week of democratic enthusiasm, I urge you all to go to the polls on Tuesday if you haven’t already voted. Be a part of this exciting day. Your vote does count. If you don’t have a conviction about a candidate or question skip it; vote on the rest. Exercise the right, the gift, for which others are spending their lives fighting. #RockTheVote
Tell me what you’re doing for what you believe in, I’d like to hear!