The Marriage Amendment Through the Refreshing Lens of Reality

Would you choose to buy a new collar for your recently deceased pet dog? As a student, would you re-type and turn in a paper that you had already turned in last month? Of course not! That would be pointless and silly. Because of this very line of thinking, I simply cannot comprehend why a person would vote “yes” on the marriage amendment.
Sure, there are a lot of arguments swirling around in our media, religious communities, and in conversations with our friends and families about same-sex marriage, but I truly believe that when we discuss the implications—both positive and negative—of same-sex marriage, we are blatantly disregarding what we’re actually voting on. Our late Senator Paul Wellstone said, “we can and must move U.S. politics forward by means of committed participation.” I wonder how we can move our state and country forward when our participation is lazy and fueled by misinformation.

The first thing we need to realize is that despite what the advertisements on TV are telling us, this amendment we’re about to vote on next week is not actually about legalizing gay marriage. In a recent TV advertisement encouraging people to vote “yes” on the amendment, the ironically-named organization “Minnesotans for Marriage” makes the claim that by voting “yes”, voters will be protecting the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. For being the group who publicly supports the amendment at hand, they seem to have no grasp of what is actually being voted on. The language that will appear on the ballot reads:

“Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples: Recognition of Marriage solely between One Man and One Woman”,

followed by a “yes” and “no” circle.

The supporters of this bill, which includes “Minnesotans for Marriage”, Minnesotan Family Council, the Minnesota Catholic Conference along with every single Republican and one Democrat in the Minnesota legislature, seem to be acting and speaking as though same-sex marriage is already legal– or even potentially close to becoming legal.

This is empirically untrue.

Functionally, nothing will change regardless of the outcome of the vote. According to Minnesota law that has been in place since 1979, marriage between two people of the same sex is prohibited. Additionally, since same-sex marriage has been legalized in 6 states, in Washington D.C., and within two Native American tribal jurisdictions, the state of Minnesota has enacted into law language that specifically states that if your marriage with a person of the same sex is recognized elsewhere—either nationally or internationally—the state of Minnesota sees it as void of meaning.

So according to reality, no perspective is in dire need of protection.

We are voting simply to reinforce, in permanent ink, something that is already law in our state. Based on these facts, this amendment would seem to be a massive waste of time, money, and public argument.

However, we have learned in recent weeks, that this amendment actually has nothing to do with morality, religious claims, or the protection of some people’s definition of marriage; the marriage amendment is simply being used as strategic bait to get lazy Republican voters and social conservatives all worked up and into the voting booth.

Michael Brodkorb once was a powerful Minnesota Republican staffer and strategist, who helped to develop the strategy for putting the marriage amendment on the ballot. After it was revealed 10 months ago that he was having an affair with Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, she resigned, he was fired, and is now an angry former Republican strategist. He recently spoke out to WCCO about the amendment, and confirmed that there are other motives at work. In an interview shown on WCCO News on October 16th, he stated the following: “The belief was, the United States Senate race [against incumbent Democrat Amy Klobuchar] was not going to be close, and that Republicans and social conservatives needed a reason to get to the polls in November.” Brodkorb will be voting “no” next week.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing during this election season what I would consider to be an unbelievable abuse of power and spread of misinformation. While nearly 70% of the college-educated survey participants I questioned during my research had a firm grasp on what is actually being voted on, the most recent polling released on Sunday by the Star Tribune is less encouraging: only 47% of Minnesotans oppose the amendment. 48% support passing it.

And frankly, there doesn’t seem to be any real argument about why we should pointlessly and permanently amend the constitution of our state. During a recent Minnesota Public Radio debate on the topic at the Fitzgerald Theater, supporters of the amendment failed almost entirely to create and support an argument about the implications of the amendment itself; most often, they merely made “almost-Christian” claims about the bible’s supposed definition of marriage, and about how voting “yes” is a somehow a protection of children.

Most importantly to me, when we consider voting blocks and different political opinions, these statistics just don’t make sense:

  • Conservatives, Republicans, and Libertarians should vote “no” and celebrate having blocked the government’s growth and role in our lives.
  • Democrats, Progressive thinkers, and human rights activists should vote “no” and feel empowered that they stopped permanent language barring basic human rights from a certain population of Minnesotans.
  • Those who base their political decisions on their religious faith should vote “no” and realize that they still can be a part of a congregation that decides not to marry same-sex couples.

So, on Tuesday, I would not only encourage you to vote for the political candidates of your choice, but to also consider voting “no” on the Marriage Amendment. Whenever I talk about politics with family and friends, I say that as long as they can justify why they’re voting in a certain way, I will respect it, even if I don’t agree with it. However, a “yes” vote just cannot be justified, in my view; it doesn’t change how our state operates in any way, it is only on the ballot in an attempt to push candidates of a single party into office, and almost everybody can vote “no” (or at least note vote on the ballot measure) and feel empowered in their decisions.

Stay safe, and be good to each other.

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5 thoughts on “The Marriage Amendment Through the Refreshing Lens of Reality

  1. Actually, while you are correct that same-sex marriage is explicitly excluded by Minnesota statute, and have the rest of the legislative history right, you’re quite wrong when you say that the law is in no danger of repeal or revision in the near future.

    In reality, same-sex marriage could easily be the law of Minnesota within the next year. There are two ways this could happen: Gov. Dayton has already committed to supporting it, as have all Democratic candidates for the state legislature. If the Democrats take back both houses of the legislature, or close the margins sufficiently to win with GOP crossover votes, marriage could be redefined within a week of the start of next legislative session.

    The other way marriage could be redefined in the near future is by judicial declaration. Minnesota’s famously expansive Supreme Court (c.f. Doe v. Gomez) is likely to face one if not two appeals from gay couples seeking marriage licenses in the coming year. If the Court rules to overturn its 1979 precedent, Baker v. Nelson, and find same-sex marriage guaranteed by the state’s equal protection clause, it would also legalize same-sex marriage.

    So amendment supporters, agree with them or not, are actually quite right: this really is the last stand for their conception of what civil marriage is and ought to be. If they win, it’s huge. If they lose, it’s all over — probably within twelve months.

    1. While it’s true that any law (or amendment, to an extent) can be reversed, the truth of the matter is that it isn’t in any real danger right now. And we aren’t voting to make same sex marriage legal. Your argument on this point hinges on a lot of “what ifs” and hypotheticals at the expense of real people who are being used as pawns in a political game.

      It’s just true, whether you like it or not. This really is a waste of time and money and worry, and it comes in the form of some significant cultural sensitivities, misinformation, and deception.

        1. In retrospect, I view this issue just like I did before the vote.

          And looking forward, I still don’t see this as a threat to anybody’s marriage. I celebrate the fact that people who are homosexuals have the same opportunity to marry the person they love that I have when I am married to a woman I love. I take great joy in justice and equality. This is something worth celebrating for most people: Conservatives, Libertarians, Tea-Partiers, Democrats, Progressives, people who care about the well-being and rights of all. The only people who should have an issue with this are those who have distorted and cherry-picked the bible. And if that’s the case, then they have some awakening to do anyhow.

          I appreciate the fact that even if you don’t like it, you don’t have to marry a person of the same gender, and that nothing has changed for you in that sense.

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