First let’s start with some facts:
1. I am a Catholic and a DFLer.
2. I like live music.
3. I am very much opposed to this amendment (edit: I am referring to the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota), and will work to see it fail.
Recently, I saw a number of people RSVPing to an event on Facebook called “Just say NO to the Basilica Block Party”. Normally things like this don’t make me think twice – I usually know where I stand on an issue. However, this year I was planning on attending ths BBP for the first time as a part of a weekend of stuff to celebrate my 30th birthday and wondered if I needed to rethink these plans.
As I mentioned above, I really do not want the Constitution of the State of Minnesota (my adopted home) to include this amendment. It solves a “problem” that doesn’t exist – it is merely a ploy to gain some chits with a certain group of people who think banning gay marriage will solve all of the woes in society. SPOILER: Um, pretty sure that investing in our state and making some tweaks to our tax codes will do a lot more to create jobs, help solve the deficit, among other things.
Also, I have said before that I don’t understand why we need this amendment. My theory is that if you are threatened by someone else’s relationship, chances are the other relationship isn’t the problem. I think everyone should be able to be happy and loved, and have a formal union with someone they love and care about if they so choose. We are all different and unique and this fact makes us the same, so we should all have the same basic rights.
So what does this have to do with a concert?
Again, here are some facts:
1. The Basilica Block Party is a yearly event put on by the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis and Cities 97.
2. The Basilica is a part of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
3. Some of the proceeds from this event go to the Basilica.
Why does this mean folks should consider boycotting this event? Well, some leaders and groups associated in the Catholic church here have expressed their opinion that they will support efforts to make this amendment successful. Not to mention the DVD mailings that were sent out ahead of the 2010 elections by the Archdiocese in support of calls by some legislators for a gay marriage ban to be put to a vote. These DVDs were paid for by an “anonymous donor”, but the fact that we don’t know who paid for them still bothers me, but I digress. . .
It seems as though people are concerned that any proceeds from this event would go to help efforts to pass the amendment, which I am NOT OK with at all. However, this concern did cause me to think twice about my birthday plans and also do a little bit of research and some good old fashioned thinking.
From the event’s website, I found a very interesting statement that honestly helped clear up a number of the questions I had (emphasis mine):
The Basilica Block Party began in 1995 as a fundraiser to pay for the $9.5 million structural restoration of The Basilica of Saint Mary, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We want the community to know that all proceeds from the Basilica Block Party benefit two areas: funding our ongoing renovation efforts of the Basilica, and supporting the St. Vincent de Paul outreach program that provides food and other services to those in need. The St. Vincent de Paul program provides food and shelter to nearly 3,500 people a month, as well as shoes and transportation assistance to 250 people every week.
The goal of the Basilica Block Party is to promote the spirit of volunteerism and community. More than 25,000 people gather annually in the presence of the historic Basilica of Saint Mary and surrounding blocks to celebrate good food, great music and summer fun. Over the last 16 years, we are proud the Block Party has become a favorite summertime event in the Twin Cities celebrating music, good weather and community, while raising money to preserve a historic landmark that has been an integral part of our community for more than a century.
It seems to me that money from this event does not go into a general fund that can be used for anything the Archdiocese wants – rather it helps two rather worthy causes in my opinion.
Second, there are concens that attending or performing at this event gives implicit support to all that the Church does. Personally, I disagree with this, but also know that it is a part of my ongoing journey related to my faith. Given the information from the website above, however, I think that it also provides information that, in fact, this event supports two very specfic projects and again is not a blanket fundraiser/event for the Archdiocese.
I also am generally not a fan of boycotts. I’d much rather take an active role in supporting the side of an issue instead of just not supporting the side I disagree with. Plus, from what I have seen and heard, boycotts rarely have the impact that people think it will – especially on larger organizations and businesses (yes, I do recognize historical example of successful boycotts). So instead of boycotting, why not do something to show your support for the issue by wearing a shirt or button to the concert? Or donate some time, or if possible money, to an organization like Minnesotans United for All Families? Action > Inaction.
As a result of my research and conversations with some friends, I have decided that I will be attending the 2011 Basilica Block Party. Some may say that this makes me a bad *insert word here*, but I have gathered facts and information that allow me to be comfortable with my decision.
I will end with a quote from one of my favorite book series of all time, “Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Let’s all work hard, and smart, to make sure Minnesota is the first state in the country to defeat a marriage amendment.