Little Heart is a proposed anthology comic in support of marriage equality, presenting stories and vignettes about love by an impressive roster of cartoonists and illustrators from around the world, including Maurice Vellekoop, Emily Carroll, Michael DeForge, Noah Van Sciver and Sally Madden. Produced in partnership by Minneapolis small press publisher 2D Cloud and the Minnesota marriage equality campaign [MN]Love, The aim of Little Heart is to get people talking about the marriage equality issue ahead of an effort to ban same sex marriage at the polls in Minnesota in November.

According to the Kickstarter pledge page, Little Heart will cover "a variety of material, from auto-bio, science fiction, intimate vignettes, romantic incidentals; work created to show that love strikes all walks of life."

A potentially beautiful book and a worthwhile project, Little Heart was presented with two major challenges. The short term challenge was for the project to achieve its funding goal of $8,5000. At the time we began work on this post, Little Heart was still short of its goal with just three days to go, and in the hours in between a few more backers put it over the top. In the long term, Little Heart's challenge will be to reach hearts and minds in a state that elected to Congress the outspoken gay rights opponent Michele Bachmann and to stop Minnesota joining the 30 states that have already voted to ban same-sex marriage.

Only eight states plus the District of Columbia allow or will allow same-sex marriage in the US, and in all cases equality was achieved through the legislature or the courts. No states have introduced marriage equality after a public vote. The notion of the majority voting on the rights of a minority ought to be anathema to all fair-minded people, but with national polls showing a shift in public opinion towards support for same-sex marriage it seems inevitable that a ballot initiative will soon produce a positive result for gay and lesbian Americans.

It probably won't happen in North Carolina, which goes to the polls in May, but it may well happen in November in Maine, and there's a slim chance it could happen the same day in Minnesota, but marriage equality needs all the friends it can get in that state. It needs a book like Little Heart.

If Little Heart makes a profit, a portion of proceeds will go toward the fight for marriage equality in the form of donations to the non-profit [MN]Love, but its more important role will be to add to the conversation. I don't think it's a coincidence that the rise in support for same-sex marriage has coincided with the increased visibility of gays and lesbians in mainstream entertainment. Gay characters are more familiar on TV on shows like Modern Family, Glee and Grey's Anatomy. Gay celebrities are more familiar in the real world, including Ellen DeGeneres, Zachary Quinto, Ricky Martin and Jane Lynch. It seems plausible that people are less likely to vote against gay marriage if they know gay people, and if they don't know them personally, they can at least get to know their stories.

Little Heart is a comic about gay stories. There haven't been a lot of books like this, from small press publishers or from the mainstream. The last book of this sort I can recall is 1988's AARGH (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia), a project helmed by Alan Moore to protest homophobic legislation in the UK. The more books that there are like this in the world, the better equipped marriage equality proponents will be to fight the misinformation and bigotry employed by opponents to frighten voters, like Michele Bachmann's claim that being gay is "personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement."

Bachmann's district is home to the Anoka-Hennepin school board, which recently pledged to improve its treatment of gay and lesbian students after allegations that its policies withheld support for victims of homophobic bullying at a time when the district faced a spate of student suicides. Minnesota clearly needs voices like Little Heart. If this book gets published it's a voice that could reach well beyond the (ironically named) North Star State and help the fight for marriage equality in other states and even in other countries.

I'm excited that Little Heart has made its target funding, not just because I think that works of art like this can make a difference, but because this is a book I want to read. Little Heart is 170+ pages, perfect bound, 5" x 6", color as well as black and white. Kickstarter funds will go towards paying the contributors and printing 1,000 copies of Little Heart locally in Minnesota. Excess funds will go towards additional copies and paying creators a higher rate. Copies of Little Heart are available for just a $20 pledge, and rewards include prints, sketches and "dates" with the artists.

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