In Memoriam: Ann Kaner-Roth

Ann Kaner-Roth, Minnesota’s deputy secretary of state and a civil rights advocate in the fight for same-sex marriage in the state, died Thursday afternoon, Dec. 21. She had been battling brain cancer since her diagnosis late March.

Before joining the Secretary of State’s office, Kaner-Roth was the executive director of Project 515 and one of the founding partners of Minnesotans United For All Families, organizations that rallied support to defeat the ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota, and later helped push through legislation to legalize it in the state.

“The Human Rights Campaign family is deeply saddened by the loss of Ann, and our thoughts go out to her husband Marc, her children, and the entire Minnesota community she loved so dearly. Ann was a tireless leader and ally for LGBTQ equality, and her historic work to win marriage equality in Minnesota helped lead the entire nation to victory on the issue just a few years later,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement. “We will always be grateful for Ann’s dedication and leadership. Her legacy will not be forgotten, and Minnesota will forever be a better place because of Ann.”

In an interview with TC Jewfolk last year, Kaner-Roth said that much of her work has been informed by her Judaism.

“I grew up in NFTY. I grew up in Duluth and was really active in my synagogue, I was really active in my youth group, I lived in a Jewish co-op in college, I’ve spent time in Israel. I’m a product of the Jewish community for sure,” she said. “The two pieces that most strongly draw me to Judaism are the community aspect and the social justice aspect. I don’t think I could point to every career choice I’ve made to say this is exactly how it emanates from my Jewish background, but I think all of the components of Tikkun Olam are pretty resonant for me. The way my career has been focused has really been about doing good in the community and making lasting change. I think that it’s not a uniquely Jewish philosophy, but I think it is a Jewish philosophy.”

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a declaration that Dec. 15, 2017 would be Ann Kaner-Roth Day.

Secretary of State Steve Simon issued the following statement: “The world has lost a special soul with the passing of Ann Kaner-Roth. On behalf of my entire office, I’m devastated by her death – and I’m heartbroken for her family. She was my friend, my collaborator, and my colleague. She dedicated her professional life to giving equal voice and equal dignity to as many people as she could. She brought passion and skill and empathy and patience to that work. She achieved great success, while always deflecting credit. Her impact will endure. She inspired many people – including me. The best way to honor her is to live by her example. May her memory continue to be a blessing.”

She was preceded in death by parents, Sharon & Bernard Kaner and brother, Jeff Kaner. Survived by husband, Marc Roth; children, Avia, Alesha and Ezra; father and mother-in-law, Sam D. & Terry Roth; sisters-in-law, Wendy (Dan) Dobres and Leslie (Michael) Podolsky; nieces and nephews. Funeral service is at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Dec 22 at First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Ave. So., Minneapolis. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Ann Kaner- Roth Fund for Youth, Justice, & Leadership at Shir Tikvah or Still Kickin. Shiva is 7 p.m. Saturday, and 4-6 p.m. Sunday and Monday at Shir Tikvah, 1360 W. Minnehaha Parkway, Minneapolis.