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Meet 2 Pittsburgh families who stay friends despite different political beliefs

The Mitchell and Gates families support different presidential nominees, but they hope to be an example of how to bridge a political divide.
/ Source: TODAY

As the country speeds towards Election Day, politics can feel more difficult and divisive than ever, but two families in the battleground state of Pennsylvania are doing their best to turn that divide into a place for positive discussion.

NBC's Morgan Radford reported Monday on TODAY on the Gates and Mitchell families, who have been next-door neighbors in Pittsburgh for 14 years. The families see each other every day and their kids are close friends, but the Mitchells are Democrats, while the Gateses are Republicans.

The families put political signs in their front yards, but they made sure to show their support for each other with signs as well.

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"We just wanted to show the community that we could be on different sides and get along," said Stuart Mitchell.

"It's not lost on any of us that this election has huge, life-altering things that are going on," added his wife, Christina Senko-Mitchell. "But the thing is, we can't solve those. If we have a relationship and we communicate with each other, maybe we're going to come a little bit closer, but you're definitely not going to come up with any answers if you're not speaking to each other."

Jill Gates said she hopes the families are able to be "an example" of how people with opposing political beliefs can "live together and be friends."

The two families gather for a "Monday mixer" every week, where they talk about daily life, politics and sports.
The two families gather for a "Monday mixer" every week, where they talk about daily life, politics and sports. TODAY

The families get together every week for "Monday Mixers," where they talk about hockey, school and, of course, politics.

"We haven't missed a Monday yet," said Bart Gates.

Bart Gates said the political conversations can be difficult, but they always remember their friendship.

"Just because you disagree on something, whether it's little or big, you have to figure out a way to be able to get along with somebody and be civil," he said. "And that's the lesson we're trying to teach our children, so that when they grow up, when they become of voting age, they know how to act in society."

When it comes to those conversations, the most important things the families do is respect each other and listen.

The Mitchells said they hope that even if people see their dueling lawn signs, they'll take a second to think about it.

"Just because someone has a sign in their yard, that does not define them on every single issue," Christina Senko-Mitchell said. "It's just a suggestion of what they like."

Meanwhile, the Gates family hope people remember that letting politics divide them just makes things more difficult.

"In a couple days the election'll be over," said Jill Gates. "But we're all still going to be here and some of us will get sick and some of us will need help. And that's what life's all about. Let's not fight. Let's just bring love to each other."