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The Walker Joins Minnesota’s Arts Community in Opposing Marriage Amendment

By Olga Viso

As an institution committed to both free expression and fairness, we stand behind couples—straight, gay, and lesbian—who wish to express their love and commitment for each other through marriage. Guided by this unequivocal value, the Walker Art Center proudly joins with cultural organizations across our state in endorsing the Minnesotans United for All Families Campaign, which is working to defeat the marriage amendment that will be on the ballot in November 2012.

If passed by voters in November, the proposed constitutional amendment would define marriage as between one man and one woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage. However, Minnesota statute already prohibits same-sex couples from marrying, and we see this amendment as not only an unnecessary measure, but also one that would make our state a less welcoming place. We’re honored to stand with our coworkers, friends, artists, and audiences who are gay and lesbian and to stand beside thousands of colleagues in the business, cultural, community-based, and faith communities in this cause.

But why do we do it? First and foremost, we believe it is the ethical stance. We affirm that love is love, and that the Minnesota Constitution—a document created to define rights instead of impose restrictions—should not be amended to make value judgments about love. Further, the Walker long ago adopted policies and hiring practices that embrace diversity and reject discrimination of all kinds; these policies are respectful of sexual orientation.

But beyond that, we realize that creative communities like ours thrive when we can all be ourselves. The immensely talented people we work with include many who are gay and lesbian, and we support them and see them as friends and equals. We also recognize that the healthiest creative climates are open to all. To foster creativity, to attract artists and audiences, and to grow the state’s economy during difficult times, we believe we must be welcoming to all, regardless of the gender of their loved ones.

At a May 14 press event, this sentiment was echoed by Sheila Smith, executive director of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts and a board member of Minnesotans United for All Families. “Minnesota’s creative community thrives because of the contributions of creative people from all walks of life,” she said. “This amendment would limit our state’s ability to recruit the best and the brightest to be a part of our state’s future. We believe in treating others as you would like to be treated. That’s the kind of place we believe Minnesota is, and that’s the kind of place we want it to be in the future.”

But it’s not just those in the arts who hold this position. Many in the business community have publicly voiced their opposition, noting that the amendment will have a negative effect on their ability to recruit the very best executive talent to the state. John Taft of RBC Wealth Management, a former Walker trustee; Charlie Zelle of Jefferson Lines; and Wheelock Whitney, who donated funds to help realize the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden’s Irene Hixon Whitney footbridge have all spoken out against the amendment. In fact, more than 200 Minnesota companies and organizations have committed to opposing the marriage amendment.

We hope you’ll join us in endorsing the Minnesotans United for All Families Campaign and pledging to vote no on this amendment.

Arts organizations endorsing the Minnesotans United for All Families Arts Community United campaign (updated October 26, 2012):
1. air sweet air Gallery
2. Altered Esthetics
3. American Composers Forum
4. Anderson Center
5. Articulture
6. Artists in Storefronts
7. Bedlam Theatre
8. Big Table Studio
9. Bloomington Theatre and Art Center
10. Box Wine Theatre
11. Burton Art Studios
12. Calliope Women’s Chorus
13. Cantus
14. Children’s Theatre Company
15. Coffee House Press
16. Crown Trout Jewelers
17. Duluth Art Institute
18. Echoes of Peace Choir
19. Electric Fetus (Duluth)
20. Emily Johnson/Catalyst
21. FEASTMpls
22. First Avenue & 7th Street Entry
23. The Flower Shop Project
24. Forecast Public Art
25. Form + Content Gallery
26. Franconia Sculpture Park
27. Frank Theatre
28. Freshwater Theatre
29. Frozen River Film Festival
30. Gadfly Theatre
31. The Gergorian Singers
32. Greywolf Press
33. Guthrie Theater
34. Hennepin Theatre Trust
35. Highpoint Center for Printmaking
36. History Theatre
37. Hopewell North Music Cooperative
38. Illusion Theater
39. In the Heart of the Beast Theater
40. Intermedia Arts
41. Ivey Awards
42. Jungle Theater
43. James Sewell Ballet
44. Kate Sommers Photography
45. Keane Sense of Rhythm, Inc Tap Dance
46. The Loft Literary Center
47. Loring Park Art Festival
48. Lunalux
49. Milkweed Editions
50. Min Enterprises Photography, LLC
51. Minnesota Center for Book Arts
52. Minnesota Chorale
53. Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
54. Minnesota Freedom Band
55. Minnesota Museum of American Art
56. Minnesota Opera
57. Minnesota Orchestra Musician’s Association
58. Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra
59. Minnesota Playlist
60. Minnesota Theater Alliance
61. Misplaced Music
62. Mixed Blood Theatre Company
63. The Moving Company Theater
64. Mu Performing Arts
65. Nautilus Music-Theater
66. New Bohemian Artist Coop
67. Off Leash Area
68. One Voice Mixed Chorus
69. Open Eye Figure Theatre
70. Ordway Center for Performing Arts
71. Pangea World Theater
72. Patrick’s Cabaret
73. Penumbra Theatre Company
74. Periscope Artist Management
75. Pillsbury House Theatre
76. Playwrights’ Center
77. Purple Ray Pictures
78. Rebel Ink Printing
79. Red Eye Collaboration
80. Rochester Art Center
81. Rochester Civic Theatre
82. Rosalux Gallery
83. The Rose Ensemble
84. Rosetown Playhouse
85. Rox Minneapolis Jewelry
86. Rhythmically Speaking
87. Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
88. Sandbox Theatre
89. Savage Umbrella
90. Schubert Club
91. Skewed Visions
92. The Soap Factory
93. Soo Visual Art Center
94. The Southern Theater
95. Springboard for the Arts
96. Stages Theatre Company
97. Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater
98. The Suicide Commandos Punk Rock Band
99. Table Salt Productions
100. Ten Thousand Things Theater
101. Textile Center
102. Theater Latte Da
103. Theatre B
104. Theatre Pro Rata
105. Theatre Unbound
106. Town Life Magazine
107. Traffic Zone Center for Visual Art
108. Trellage-Ferrill Architecture & Art
109. 20 Percent Theatre Company Twin Cities
110. Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus
111. Twin Cities Labor Chorus
112. Twin Cities Musicians Union
113. Twin Ports Bridge Festival
114. 2d Cloud
115. Upstream Arts
116. VocalEssence
117. Walker Art Center
118. Walking Shadow Theatre Company
119. Women’s Art Resources of MN
120. White Bear Center for the Arts

In addition, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has also endorsed the campaign.