Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Loving vs. Virginia

While doing some research on the history of marriage in the United States, I learned that in 1958 Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter decided to get married, but because Mr. Loving and Ms. Jeter were different races, their marriage was illegal in their home state of Virginia. So, the couple went to Washington, D.C. and got married, but, after returning home, they were arrested because living together as a married couple was also illegal in Virginia. They were subsequently convicted of violating Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924. A Judge ordered them to leave the state and not return for 25 years or spend one year in jail. They returned to Washington, D.C., but in 1963 took their case to Court. Their case, Loving vs. Virginia, eventually made it to the Supreme Court and resulted in the historic decision that made all U.S. antimiscegenation laws illegal in 1967.

As Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote then:

"The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free [people] ..."

Here is a written account of what Mildred Loving said at a press conference on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision on June 12, 2007:

"When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn't to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.

We didn't get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there because the government wouldn't allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who should marry whom.

When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn't that what marriage is?

Arrested in the Middle of the Night

Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the "crime" of marrying the wrong kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed.

The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared: ""Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix." He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.


We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a cause. We were fighting for our love.

Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn't have to fight alone. Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, "The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men," a "basic civil right."

God's Plan?

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God's plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people civil rights.

Freedom to Marry for All

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about. "

You can learn more about the wonderful, inspirational Lovings' story here and here

Leading By Example

Our Equity in Employment efforts at the city are getting some national attention.

A recent article in PolicyLink's "America's Tomorrow" newsletter says,

"Minneapolis recently became the first city in the nation to adopt a resolution promoting racial equity in employment."
We are expecting to get an update on progress made so far next Wednesday, the 24th, at the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Health committee meeting that starts at 1:30. The agenda and staff report should be posted online here soon.

I believe this will be the 7th item on the agenda: “Equity in Employment in Minneapolis and the Region: Receive and file update report on Council Resolution 2012R-456 Supporting Equity in Employment in Minneapolis and the Region.” It will likely include a staff presentation with a first draft of an equity “tool kit.” Time for the committee members to ask questions and discuss the presentation and issue will also be provided.

It would be helpful for me to get thoughts and input from any of you on this draft, as well as questions that you might want answered.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Surly Brewing

As you can read here, a location in the Southeast Minneapolis Industrial (or SEMI) area of the Second Ward is at the top of the list of locations Surly Brewing Company is considering for their new brewery and taproom.

They will be applying for environmental remediation grants to deal with significant soil contamination of this land, which is fairly standard for the use of industrial land, especially on or near old railroad corridors.

I am very supportive of this idea, and have encouraged City Economic Development staff to help in any way we can - though, to their credit, they've needed little encouragement.  Staff are as excited about the prospect of Surly making Minneapolis home as I am.  When Surly moves to the SEMI area, it will bring a large number of good paying jobs to the Second Ward, increase the vitality of not only SEMI but the University Avenue corridor, and represent one of the first major employers attracted by the Central Corridor LRT.

I look forward to attending the opening of the new Surly brewery in the Second Ward in 2014!

Xcel Required to Keep Solar Rewards

This is good news: the Minnesota Department of Commerce has rejected Xcel's request to scrap the popular and successful Solar Rewards rebate program.  The Commerce Commissioner's reasons for requiring Xcel to keep Solar Rewards in place sound a lot like the City's position that I wrote about back in August.  Solar Rewards will remain in place for the next three years, though at a smaller rebate subsidy than before.

Again, this lack of commitment to solar energy and building a viable, sustainable solar industry in Minneapolis and Minnesota is one of the reasons I think we ought to keep our energy options open.