Written by Nicky Simon-Burton, MAOL, community relations

As a citizen of Minnesota for my entire life, I have always appreciated the progressive nature of this state. We have great social service programs to help others out; tremendous health care researchers and developers; talented arts, theater, and dance communities; and, we are generally nice people. Now that we are poised to be the 12th state to acknowledge the relationships of same sex couples; I could not be more proud.

However, marriage equality is about more than just two people loving and committing to each other. It is a statement of being as important, as valuable, as capable of maintaining love just like everyone else. For most of our community this dialogue has not been heard from a state level. For some of us these words have never been heard on an individual level. And that has caused us some pain.

At PRIDE Institute I have seen tremendous growth come out of enormous pain. I imagine the State of Minnesota will have tremendous growth, regardless of the final verdict. As a lesbian committed mom of a two year old, I know I have held my head up higher knowing that we have collectively said NO to discrimination in this great state. However, I am not naïve to think this is the only battle to be won.

Certainly there are upcoming struggles related to transgender inclusiveness that MUST be addressed individually, locally, statewide, and nationally. Health care research in LGBT communities still shows a lower level of access, higher acuity, and fear of discrimination. This is similar to many other minority populations. So, what are we going to do about it?

What is the point of being able to fall in love and get married if you aren’t safe to get ongoing medical care to keep you and your relationship strong and growing?

So, let us hope and pray for a positive result for our marriage rights, and then turn our attention to helping educate and advocate for better cultural competency across all other aspects of our lives.