Madeline Koch

Many of us in the LGBT community — perhaps most of us — are dead set in our belief that trying to make progress on LGBT rights within the Republican Party is a waste of time. And we show little tolerance, much less respect, for those LGBT people who are Republican and who continue to persist in their efforts to support the GOP while at the same time making it more welcoming to LGBT people and LGBT equality.

I admit that, at least when it comes to the Republican Party as it stands today under its current leadership, especially here in Texas, I see little hope for progress. But the fact is, the folks currently in power in the GOP won’t always be in power. There is a new generation moving up through the Republican ranks, and it is, I think, in that generation that our hope lies.

Poll after poll shows that younger people, even younger Republicans, believe in equal rights for LGBT people in far greater numbers than their parents and grandparents. Take, for example, Meghan McCain, daughter of current senator and former presidential candidate John McCain. Despite her father’s anti-LGBT stances, Meghan McCain has come out time after time in support of our community and our efforts toward equality.

And she’s not the only one.

This week, the Minnesota Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, after hearing more than three hours of testimony, voted 8-4 along party lines to approve a measure that would amend that state’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, according to reports in On Top Magazine. That vote sent the amendment to the 11-member Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Final approval would put the amendment on the 2012 ballot in Minnesota.

So far, it’s the same old story: Republicans voting to deny equal rights to LGBT people. And if the Republicans now in power in Minnesota get their way, the amendment will be on the ballot next year, and the state’s constitution will be amended. But young, straight Republican Madeline Koch gives us hope that even if that happens, the ban won’t last.

Koch was among those who testified before the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety. But contrary to what many might expect, she was testifying AGAINST the amendment.

Koch told the committee members, “I’m here today because I would like to give you my perspective and the perspective of most people I know who are a part of my generation, political party and sexual orientation on why adding a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage is not only wrong on a moral front but also takes our party in the wrong direction for future generations of Republicans.”

She also told committee members that “The need for equality and the full acceptance of GLBT people is something Minnesota’s next generation of leaders has already embraced,” and noted that, “Among my generation, there’s no doubt that equal rights for all Minnesotans is necessary for the good of the state.”

Koch also asked the committee not to vote in favor of an amendment that would distract attention from the state’s real problems and that would “force us to spend valuable time later undoing the mistakes made here today.”

No, the Republicans on Minnesota’s Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety didn’t listen to Madeline Koch this time; they voted for the amendment banning gay marriage anyway. But the time is coming — and we can only hope it is coming quickly — when the old guard who like to use LGBT people as pawns in their battles for political power will be overtaken and replaced by Madeline Koch and her generation. That reminds us again that we cannot rely on any single political party but that we must work with those of all political stripes, and it gives us hope that all we have to do is keep fighting, and one day we will win.

Watch Koch’s complete testimony below: