The suburbs of Minneapolis are a land of quiet cul-de-sacs, hot dish potlucks, and mostly conservative politics, but in light of a new amendment that seeks to add a gay marriage ban to the Minnesota constitution, these neighborhoods have become something a bit more unexpected: a sea of rainbow flags. And who’s leading the charge? Church ladies, of course!
As soon as the State Legislature voted to include this despicable amendment on the November ballot, Gwin Pratt, a senior pastor at St. Luke Presbyterian Church, sprang into action, brainstorming ways to fight it. One church member, Cindy Eyden, proposed a plan: what if they bought rainbow flags and handed them out to anyone who wanted one?
From there, church members like Maureen Henderson took the cause into their own hands: “They were selling these rainbow flags, only $2.50 for this full size, beautiful flag, and I looked at it, and bought a whole bunch of flags.” She thought, “I’m going to go home to my neighborhood, and see, in our community, if one by one we can hand them out and then together start to address this issue.”
Armed with those beautiful flags and their patented brand of Midwest charm, the women did what so many in the marriage equality movement have not been able to do: they started a respectful conversation about an extremely hot-button topic. They told their neighbors why this issue was important to them. They listened to their neighbors’ thoughts and concerns. They were kind, open, and honest.
Before long, the suburb of Eden Prairie was draped in rainbows.
Henderson’s neighbor Wendy Ivins, who canvassed the neighborhood with her husband, recently sent out an email to thank her neighbors for their courage: “We are doing this to show support for our gay neighbors, friends and family members … Flying the rainbow flag is not meant to start a confrontation, but rather to start a conversation. I think we can all learn from each other.”
Seeing flags adorn the homes of neighbors who identify as religious and non-religious, republicans and democrats, Henderson is heartened by the response. “The whole message to me is about fighting injustice and fighting discrimination, not about being saved and going to heaven,” she says. “It’s about making this place heaven, making this place just, not waiting for another day. Heaven is justice, heaven is fairness.”
Amen to that.