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Let me tell you about my friend Ann.

Simply put, Ann Kaner-Roth was an amazing woman. Early in her career, she was an advocate for early childhood education. She was perhaps best known as the leader of Project 515, a nonprofit organization in the mid 2000s that fought to overturn the 515 laws on Minnesota’s books that discriminated against same sex couples. Her work there evolved into being one of the driving forces behind Minnesota United for All Families, the movement that successfully stopped a proposed 2012 constitutional amendment to prevent same sex marriage in Minnesota. When love became the law of the land, she went to work for the ACLU and then eventually became deputy secretary of state for Minnesota.

Ann passed away yesterday. She’d been diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year and did what she always did: she fought like hell. In the end, she lost the battle. In November, she’d been given about three months to live. She only ended up with barely three more weeks.

I wasn’t Ann’s closest friend, not by a long shot (she had so many….). But I loved her. I’d only known her about ten years. I met her through my husband who’d known her since the 80s. From our very first meeting, I knew immediately that she was a person of infinite kindness, compassion, and love. In fact, there was not a single thing in her life that Ann didn’t do in the name of love, whether it was because she loved the cause or because she was fighting so others could love. She is someone I will always associate with that word.

At one point during the service today, an event that packed the facility, the attendees were asked to stand if their marriage is now legal because of Ann’s actions. So many people stood up, and I was proudly among them. I’m glad I once got to thank her for everything she did so that my husband and I could enjoy the same rights as all married couples. We were so lucky to have her at our wedding. I hope she knew how many others in Minnesota were grateful as well.

She leaves behind her adoring husband and three super amazing kids (she lived long enough to see her youngest get bat mitzvahed a couple months ago). I know they’ll all be hurting for a while, but I know equally well that every single one of them will more forward with a piece of Ann inside them and they’ll continue to do everything they do in the name of love.

I will miss her a great deal. But I thank her for all the love and kindness she put out into the world and I’m glad I can count myself among those who are better people for having known her.

Published in: on December 22, 2017 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment