Marilyn Carlson Nelson is Chairman of Carlson Companies, one of the largest privately held companies in the world. Forbes magazine has also regularly selected her as one of "the World's 100 Most Powerful Women." So when she wrote a Star Tribune commentary on the Minnesota constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that will be on the 2012 ballot, her words were profound. Even though it is somewhat long, be sure to read the article to the end where she makes a startling revelation. We definitely need more leaders of her caliber, and with her sensitivity, to stand up and speak out.

Another member of that fabulous book group we met with in Marshalltown, IA has written another letter to the editor regarding Iowa's efforts to overturn their Supreme Court's decision to allow gays to marry:
                                                                                        February 3, 2011

Dear Editor, Marshalltown Times Republican:

I think we would all agree that our state legislature has many serious problems to deal with this session - creating jobs, stimulating the economy, improving our schools, and balancing our budget.   That is why I am concerned that so much time has been devoted to passing an amendment to prevent gay individuals from retaining their marriage rights. 

Approval of this amendment would overturn the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision giving gay Iowans the same freedoms and responsibilities as the rest of us - to marry whomever we choose.  The Iowa Supreme Court is responsible for interpreting our laws regarding their constitutionality - and that is exactly what these justices did.

Iowa has had a long and proud tradition of giving its citizens the opportunity to reach their full potential.    Many gay Iowans make important contributions to our communities each day - caregivers, teachers, nurses, doctors, legislators, and business owners - to mention just a few.   I look forward to the day when the value of these individuals is measured by their hard work and accomplishments, not by whom they love.


Nancy Earney – Marshalltown, IA

Published Letter to the Editor:
It seems to me that our world is becoming more divided by the labels or negative names we are putting on the men, women, and children who are different from us.  This lack of respect is being done at a time when our Marshalltown community must come together to support one another as human beings, not as labels or negative names to bully one another.

I had a huge wake- up call this past week, sitting with a group of women to listen to a story of pain, struggle and endurance, by two women who went through so much because of their love for one another as partners for the last 35 years.  Meeting and getting to know them made their story real told by real people who were interesting and intelligent women, and not their gay labels.  I was able to honor their strength and their honesty.

I feel I am a member of a really great Marshalltown Community.  I grew up here and came back here because it is home to me.  But I see many men, women, and children who are truly hurting because of  the divisiveness of discrimination;  and this comes in many forms whether skin color, race, religion or sexual orientation.

When I grew up here, it was basically a White community with a few African American families and a few Jewish families.  When I returned, I was delighted to see a multi-cultural society with the blending together of many kinds of skin color, race, races, religions and sexual orientation.  The reality of hurtful words and negative tones has truly saddened me.

As a former educator, my heart has been rent with the news stories of young teens who cannot survive bullying because they are gay or lesbians, and they feel their only choice is to die. As a mother, I am deeply saddened by families who choose to throw out and throw away their gay child because they don’t want them anymore. They are missing the joy that child could bring and the love they could share by allowing them to be true to who they are.

We are all equal human beings, whether we are straight, gay, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Black, White, Brown, Native American, Hispanic or any other label we seem to need to wear or  name others in our society.

When are we going to start putting a face on each of these labels and see the person and listen to their story?

I believe it was Jesus who commanded us to love one another. There was no hating or labels, exceptions or exclusiveness in that commandment. It included loving ALL human beings.

The Marshalltown that I have always known has always had a wonderful spirit about it and an on-going positive energy to set goals for the betterment of the town we live in.  Let us continue to set goals that are welcoming and respectful of all human beings that choose to abide in this fabulous place that I call my home.

Jeannine Heng, longtime Marshalltown resident