ST. PAUL, Minn. (July 30, 2012) — The Hmong American Partnership Board of Directors, on July 19, 2012 voted to oppose the proposed Minnesota constitutional amendments to require Voter ID at the elections and to ban marriage for same-sex couples.
These proposed amendments are on the ballot for this November. The Board felt strongly that both amendments were counter to the HAP mission and values. Its mission is to empower the community to embrace the strengths of our cultures while achieving our potential. We are committed to serving all members of our local community and providing holistic support to children, youth, families and elders.
The Board voted to oppose the amendment to the Minnesota Constitution requiring photo identification to vote in a Minnesota election. Our communities already struggle with issues of transportation, housing, access to resources and language barriers. An amendment which requires specific types of photo identification in order to vote, even after one has already registered, presents additional barriers to our communities in the electoral process. This amendment further disempowers us.
The Board voted to oppose the amendment to the Minnesota Constitution banning marriage to same-sex couples. An amendment which would ban marriage to same-sex couples would only hurt our communities and families. Not only does this amendment limit the freedoms of Minnesotans, it also impedes important conversations regarding gender, sexuality, marriage and family that our communities are only beginning to have. Intentional conversation and additional support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of our community are needed in order to understand the needs and issues facing this community.
In a recent report conducted in part by Shades of Yellow (SOY), a Hmong lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) organization, they assessed the issues facing over 300 LGBTQ Southeast Asian across the country, including 70 Hmong LGBTQ from Minnesota. The findings were disheartening, detailing stories of youth being physically attacked, disowned and kicked out of their homes and fearful of losing their jobs simply because they are LGBTQ. HAP recognizes that a Minnesota state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage would thwart productive dialogue around the needs of these members of our community and only serve to further ostracize them.
HAP President and CEO Bao Vang stated, “HAP stands firmly in opposition to these amendments and remains committed to serving all members of our diverse communities and ensuring they have access to their rights and freedoms. For many in our community, these issues touch upon areas that we have not talked about openly. These conversations need to be had without such drastic amendments becoming law.”
If organizations wish to use HAP’s name in opposition to either amendment, they may request and seek approval of HAP’s President and CEO.
Hmong American Partnership is a community development organization whose mission is: to empower the community to embrace the strengths of our cultures while achieving our potential. HAP was established in 1990 to address the needs of Minnesota’s growing Hmong population. Since its inception, HAP has expanded to serve community members from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic groups. HAP provides critical services and support to more than 5,000 community members annually through five programs: Education & Training; Employment Services; Housing Services; Economic Development; and Family Supportive Services. For more information about Hmong American Partnership and its programs, please visit HAP’s website at www.hmong.org.