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Bernie Erickson, Fargo, Published May 21 2013

Letter: Our marriage has had positive effect on our Fargo community

One of the arguments made by proponents of the recent history-making vote in Minnesota is that same-gender marriage will have no effect on existing marriages, families or straight people.

That statement is not entirely accurate.

Seven years ago, my partner and I were married in Winnipeg. In those days, there was only a state or two that allowed same-gender couples to marry, and committing our lives to one another in the company of our families and closest friends was extremely important to us.

And even though our Canadian marriage had minimal legal benefit in the United States, we hoped it might add a layer of support should there have been need in any legal or emergency situation.

Our marriage has had an effect on society.

We’ve become value-added members of a lovely south Fargo neighborhood. Our home is maintained in as good or better condition than when we bought it eight years ago.

Our oldest son has married and given us three wonderful grandchildren who know us as Grandpa and Poppa. Those children’s only reality is the two of us sharing life together. Just like their other grandparents.

We’ve seen our youngest three children graduate from high school, graduate from college and move on to various states of graduate studies as they embark on life.

We’ve provided an example to young men and women that being gay doesn’t mean you need to live a life of solitude and shame. Rather, opportunities are just as available to gay kids as straight kids, depending on their willingness to invest in making those opportunities a reality.

But I think the absolute best effect our marriage has had on society is the untold number of parents who in various states of emotion have thanked us for showing them their gay child can grow up to live exactly the life they had hoped for them. It’s just that their new son or daughter-in-law may not be the gender they’d originally thought they would.

Residents of North Dakota and Minnesota, if you’re concerned same-gender marriage will have an effect on society, you’re probably right.

That effect is going to be positive.