Tagged: Minnesota marriage amendment

MN Senator Will Introduce Marriage Equality Bill This Week

Just three months after voters in Minnesota defeated a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment, lawmakers in the Gopher State plan to introduce bills in the House and Senate that would give same-sex couples the freedom to marry.

scott_dibbleIn an interview yesterday, DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) State Senator Scott Dibble (left)  told WCCO-TV that he will introduce a marriage equality bill this week because he believes it has the momentum to pass in the wake of November’s historic victory. And Dibble said that support for equal marriage rights extends far beyond the socially progressive Twin Cities metro area:

It’s just simply an amendment that removes the restriction that disallows some couples from getting married. My strong sense, even from folks in greater Minnesota, is that they’re comfortable with this, they know that Minnesota has changed a lot and is continuing to change at a very rapid pace.

DFL State Representative Karen Clark plans to introduce similar legislation in the House. Democrats control both houses of the Minnesota Legislature, but votes are not expected on either marriage bill until after the lawmakers pass a budget. Pro-equality DFL Governor Mark Dayton has pledged to sign marriage equality into law if given the opportunity to do so.

Schubert-Designed ‘Marriage Equality Harms Kids’ Ad Released in Minnesota

antigay-parents-parkers-minnesotaIn vintage Frank Schubert form, Minnesota for Marriage — the paradoxically-named group that’s working hard to add a marriage discrimination amendment to the Minnesota constitution — released an ad today that attempts to scare Minnesotans into voting for the amendment by ominously (and falsely) warning that marriage equality harms children because “same-sex marriage could be taught in local schools.” Similar shamelessly fear-mongering ads, released en masse at the last minute, contributed greatly to the 2008 passage of Proposition 8 in California.

Let’s hope that this year, the outcome in Minnesota will be different.


Former Minnesota GOP Insider Reveals Real Reason Behind Marriage Amendment

amendment_1_mnIt’s no secret that Republicans have used anti-gay ballot initiatives as a cynical means of getting conservatives to the polls on Election Day. Karl Rove infamously employed this strategy in 2004, with great results: all 11 states with marriage discrimination amendments on the ballot that year passed them overwhelmingly, and they drew out rural and suburban conservatives in droves,  providing what the New York Times called “crucial assistance” to Republican candidates. Seven more states followed suit in 2006, including my home state of Wisconsin, where the conservative turnout surge was supposed to have helped Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green unseat Democratic incumbent Jim Doyle. (The amendment passed, but Doyle easily won re-election.)

Fast forward to 2012. Of the four states where marriage-related ballot initiatives will go before the voters next month, only in Minnesota are voters being asked to consider a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. (Voters in Maine will decide whether to reinstate a marriage equality law that was overturned in 2009; in Maryland and Washington, voters will choose whether to allow legislatively-enacted marriage equality laws to go into effect.) And last night, Michael Brodkorb — a former Republican activist and party leader in Minnesota who was one of the chief architects of that state’s proposed marriage amendment — pulled back the curtain on the proponents’ strategy, admitting that it was placed on the ballot not to “protect marriage,” as they claim, but to get conservatives (who might otherwise be tempted to stay home due to the non-competitive nature of incumbent Democrat Amy Klobuchar’s U.S. Senate race) “off the couch and into the voting room” next month. CBS Minnesota reports:

“It provided a turnout opportunity for Republicans,” he said.

Brodkorb was former Deputy Chairman of the State Republican Party and top Senate staffer, and says GOP Senators knew a driving force behind the gay marriage amendment wasn’t morality. It was political reality.

Top GOP leaders thought they couldn’t beat incumbent Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Republicans would stay home.

“The belief was, the United States senate race was not going to be close, and that Republicans needed and social conservatives needed a reason to get to the polls in November,” he said.

michael_brodkorbBrodkorb (left) was at the center of a sex scandal that broke in late 2011 that resulted in him admitting to an illicit affair with (married) Republican Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch. Koch resigned her position and Brodkorb lost his job. According to the CBS Minnesota article, Brodkorb is now taking legal action for what he alleges was an improper firing.

Despite his role in getting Minnesota’s marriage discrimination amendment on the 2012 ballot, Brodkorb says he’ll be voting “no” on the measure next month. And he has an interesting prediction about the amendment’s prospects:

Ironically, he now says [using same-sex marriage to draw conservatives to the polls is] a strategy that could backfire.

Opposition to the amendment is strong in the Twin Cities suburbs, and it could cause some Republican state Senators to lose.

Considering that the Minnesota Republican Party apparently has no compunction about using LGBT people’s lives and families for cynical political purposes, I can only hope.

Watch Brodkorb’s interview with CBS Minnesota’s WCCO — click here.


Lutheran Bishop in MN Rebukes Catholic Archbishop in Open Letter

chilstromIn an op-ed published last weekend in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, former Lutheran Bishop Herbert W. Chilstrom respectfully but firmly rebuked Twin Cities Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt for his aggressive support and promotion of a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would permanently strip the freedom to marry from same-sex couples. Chilstrom — a Minnesota native who served as the first presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and as vice president of the Lutheran World Federation in Geneva, Switzerland — wrote that in his view the archbishop, who is frequently quoted in the media as having “drawn the line” on marriage, has drawn it in the wrong place — in a place, in fact, that would effectively impose the Catholic Church’s definition of marriage on all Minnesotans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. He notes that previous attempts throughout history to do just that have failed miserably:

Eight hundred years ago, Pope Innocent III presided over church and state in most of what is now Western Europe. He left no room for dissent. Non-Catholics, including Jews, Muslims and nonbelievers, were even required to wear clothing that distinguished them from the church’s faithful.

Several centuries later, John Calvin held monumental sway over society in Switzerland, fostering regulations that prescribed much of daily life.

For years kings and heads of the churches in Scandinavia allowed only Lutherans to hold worship services. Believers who gathered without the presence of a clergyman were imprisoned.

Since Israel became a sovereign nation after World War II, some Orthodox Jews have tried to form a government ruled by religious law. They have been firmly resisted.

But in neighboring Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is now attempting to force Islamic law on every citizen.

As these efforts have failed in the past, I believe they will fail in the future as well.

Bishop Chilstrom also notes that Nienstedt’s authoritative-sounding words and decisive actions leave the misleading impression that the Catholic Church is a monolithic institution intolerant of dissent, then points out that Nienstedt’s predecessor in the Diocese of New Ulm (where Nienstedt was bishop before being promoted to his current position) spoke openly and publicly about the need for the Catholic Church to consider ordaining married men and women to the priesthood. “He clearly understood,” writes Chilstrom, “that one could be a good Roman Catholic and still be open to change.”

Chilstrom acknowledges that both he and Nienstedt are entitled to their own opinions as private citizens of our republic, but that the enactment and enforcement of laws should be left to the legislature and the judiciary. He concludes by pointing out that dissent in the Catholic Church isn’t just limited to the hierarchy: “There is evidence that many in your church will vote ‘no’ on this amendment,” Chilstrom writes. “I stand with them and with all who will vote ‘no.’”

Read Bishop Chilstrom’s full op-ed here.


Minnesota Catholics Organize to Oppose Marriage Discrimination

catholic_voting_noMinnesota voters will decide this November whether to add an amendment to that state’s constitution that would constitutionally eliminate the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, which is already illegal under state law. I’ve covered it rather extensively here, especially because the state’s Catholic bishops have launched an aggressive campaign to lobby for passage of the discriminatory amendment.

The bishops’ spiritual bullying has upset a large portion of Minnesota’s Catholics (which is hardly surprising, given that a majority of Catholics nationwide support LGBT rights, and 58 percent endorse marriage equality). And according to the Star Tribune, they’re continuing to organize (emphasis mine):

About 20 Catholics sat on folding chairs and old sofas in Ed Burg’s basement, snacking on cookies and candy and talking about why they don’t like the proposed marriage amendment.

“It’s a matter of further restriction on gay or GLBT people of whom there are number in my family, particularly my son,” said Burg, 88, who attends St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Bloomington.

Last week’s meeting was one of several recently organized by Catholics who oppose the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, putting them at odds with Catholic bishops and underscoring the deep divide and tension among Catholics over the issue of gay marriage [sic]. On Wednesday, several hundred Catholics met in Minneapolis’ Loring Park to sing, dance, pray and show support for same-sex marriage.

Kate Brickman of the group Minnesotans United for All Families told the Star Tribune that pro-equality Catholics have had to meet in private homes and other non-Catholic spaces because church leaders won’t allow them to meet in Catholic spaces, due to the anti-gay views of the Catholic hierarchy.

Reporter Rose French asked political science professor Laura Olson, who has researched constitutional marriage discrimination amendments, why Minnesota’s Catholic bishops have chosen to make the push for marriage discrimination so prominent in parishes and dioceses across that state. Olson’s answer is rather revealing (again, emphasis mine):

Olson said bishops may believe the amendment has a good chance of failing and are putting a lot of energy into trying to get it passed, although such actions could have the opposite effect with some, who’d rather see church money used for “social justice issues.”

“Among Catholics, and this would be true in Minnesota and nationwide, you’ve got about a third who are pretty … traditional in their interpretation and adhere to what the bishops say. What the remaining two-thirds do is really the issue.”

Thomson Reuters is Latest Company to Oppose Marriage Discrimination in MN

Minnesotans_United_logoThomson Reuters, a worldwide media conglomerate and Fortune 500 company, has become the latest major Minnesota employer to formally come out in opposition to that state’s proposed marriage discrimination amendment. Minnesotans United for All Families, the official bipartisan campaign to defeat the amendment, is reporting that the company did so this morning in an email to employees, which read in part:

As we’ve heard from employees, recruiters and customers, one thing has been very clear: we’re a better place when we have a rich variety of perspectives, talents, backgrounds, lifestyles and experiences in our workplace, and within the broader community from which we recruit. We believe that building a culture that thrives on diversity and inclusion and provides equal opportunities to everyone is a critical factor in our ability to serve our customers and be successful. …We believe the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, if passed, would limit our ability to recruit and retain top talent. For this reason, we do not believe that the Amendment would be good for Thomson Reuters or the business community in the state.

Thomson Reuters joins two other Fortune 500 companies (General Mills and St. Jude Medical), over 132 businesses, 31 law firms, 106 faith communities and organizations, 24 labor
unions and professional associations, 175 nonprofit organizations, 29 political organizations and parties, and tens of thousands of pro-fairness individuals and families across the state of Minnesota in saying no to this discriminatory and divisive amendment.

Note: for the record, I hope Thomson Reuters didn’t intend to use the word “lifestyle” as a reference to the LGBT community — as I’ve pointed out before, the truth is that sexual orientation and gender identity are intrinsic parts of a person’s humanity, not a “lifestyle choice.” Since the company has made the choice to stand on the right side of history in the Minnesota amendment fight, though, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Have a Minute? Thank General Mills for Supporting Marriage Equality

Anti-gay activists are absolutely furious at General Mills in the wake of the company’s announcement last week that it opposes marriage discrimination in Minnesota. According to Andy Birkey at TheColu.mn, equality opponents plan to respond by protesting and boycotting the company, despite the fact that they decry those very same tactics when the other side employs them.

There is truly no limit to the hypocrisy of anti-LGBT activists and organizations. In their world, being LGBT is very, veeeery bad, except for the litany of prominent homophobes who’ve been caught with their pants down. Seeking so-called “special rights” is a no-no, unless you’re seeking the special right to enshrine your religious dogma into civil law. And it’s outrageous “intimidation” when equality supporters boycott businesses that support marriage discrimination, but when you plan your own boycott of pro-fairness businesses, that’s perfectly acceptable because — after all — you’ve got God on your side. (Apparently Jesus loves double standards. Who knew?)

Nevertheless, if the haters are swarming, we need to respond. David Joseph DeGrio, chair of Minnesota’s Stonewall DFL, passed along a graphic that I want to share with you, dear reader, in the hope that it will impel you to be a part of that response. Please consider calling the number below and letting General Mills know you stand with them in their support of equality for LGBT people and families. I did it myself — it was incredibly easy, took less than a minute, and the operator said he was happy to record and pass along my positive comments.

Thanks in advance for your help!