Catholic teen's marriage equality stance unsettles Minnesota town
It's a fight straight from the Vatican now landed on the wind-swept prairie of western Minnesota — all because of a Magic Marker, a yard sign and a 16-year-old boy with an iPhone. Lennon Cihak, a high school junior in the Minnesota town of Barnesville — population about 2,500 — was raised Roman Catholic like his parents and grandparents. His mother and father, Shana and Doug Cihak, were baptized, confirmed and married in Barnesville's century-old Assumption Church, the same one where Lennon had been attending confirmation classes since spring. Then on Oct. 24 — 13 days before the vote on a proposed state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman — everything changed. That night, Lennon attended a run-through for the ceremony of his confirmation, the sacrament in which believers reaffirm their faith. Lennon, who was named after Beatles member John Lennon, says nothing special happened at church to set the fateful events in motion, but for weeks he had been thinking about the marriage amendment. A lot of his friends were opposed, saying it didn't seem fair. "In the Constitution it says all men are created equal. If they can't get married, they aren't equal," he remembers thinking. So that night he took a pro-amendment yard sign, changed "Vote Yes" to "Vote No" with a black marker and scrawled the words "Equal Marriage Rights." He then posed with the sign, snapped a photo with his phone, and posted the picture on his Facebook page.