The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 3, 2012

Marriage amendment reflections emerge from personal histories

— Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-day series on the

proposed marriage amendment. Saturday’s story is on our

website: mankatofreepress.com.

Pam Soper has a wedding band on the ring finger of her left hand and a matching band on a chain around her neck.

The ring on her finger has been there since the day Anne Walsh signed the do-not-resuscitate papers at the Mankato hospital, one of the last days the Army veteran and longtime Mankato police officer spent in the hospital before going home to die.

“I decided that was the moment,” Soper said. “It was just the two of us, and I pulled out the rings. I just said, ‘I know we’re not able to have this wedding we talked about, but — for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health, till death do us part, Anne, am I with you.’ And we just cried and cried, of course, in the hospital room.”

The ring on the chain around Soper’s neck has been there since July 19, when Walsh died following a three-year fight against ovarian cancer.

Four weeks later, Soper stood up before a packed Mankato City Council hearing to encourage opposition to the amendment on Tuesday’s ballot that would constitutionally reinforce Minnesota’s ban on gay marriage.

Soper talked of Walsh’s service to her country and her city, of the love and commitment they shared, and of the hurtfulness of the amendment. For the same reasons, she agreed to be interviewed for this story.

“She lived an incredibly honorable life and fought so hard and wanted to see things change,” Soper said.

She offers their story mainly for people who have no direct connection to a gay couple, no personal stake in Tuesday’s vote.

“I just want people to open their minds. ... Even my parents say if it weren’t for me, they probably would still be anti-gay because they just hadn’t been forced to deal with it as a real-life situation. And I think that happens for a lot of people until they really have someone in their life who’s gay and realize, ‘Oh, they’re not so freaky.’ You’re afraid of what you don’t know.”

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