MANKATO — Editor's note: This is the first day of a two-day series that explores the marriage amendment proposal on Tuesday's ballot.
Russ Blaschko of Mankato and Nancy Cramblit of North Mankato are both parents of adult children. Both have been married for decades, are regular church-goers and have never been particularly active politically.
This election — because of the emotionally charged and controversial marriage amendment on Tuesday’s ballot — left each of them feeling a sense of obligation to go beyond simply casting a vote.
“People ask me, ‘Russ, how can you talk on this? How can you speak out on this? How can you meet with The Free Press on this?’” Blaschko said. “You know what? There’s no hate in my heart. There’s no discrimination, there’s no bigotry in my heart. ... And I don’t really think I’m sticking my neck out. I think I’m standing firm on values that I have.”
Blaschko is a banker, a father of three and grandfather of one, and an active member of Holy Rosary Catholic Church. He strongly supports the amendment that would strengthen the state’s existing law restricting marriage to heterosexual couples by putting it into the Minnesota constitution.
Cramblit is a retired special education teacher and a mother of three. She attends the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mankato and opposes the amendment, saying it would take Minnesota backward in what she believes is an inevitable recognition that gay Americans should have the right to marry.
“My faith is really important to me, and I guess that’s what really drives me to do things I’m not comfortable with — like agree to get up and talk to the (North Mankato City) Council or agree to say yes to you coming to interview me ... . What I really want to say is ‘Go to the polls with love in your hearts instead of fear. And treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated.’”