By Philip Lowe. I am very concerned about what Minnesota will look like after the 2012 Elections. Should the Minnesota anti-equality majority legislature achieve their goal of placing a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality for LGBT people on the ballot in 2012 what will happen? No one can answer that question with some certainty. Who knows what the future holds?
Here are some points that I think those concerned about LGBT equality in Minnesota might want to consider.
In January the Minnesota Family Council through a program called Ignite. Ignite proposed raising $4.7 million to get a marriage amendment on the ballot in 2012 and passed. We have no idea exactly how much money will come through NOM, the Mormons and the Minnesota Catholic Conference. Given the unlimited amounts of money individuals and corporations can now spend on elections, you can bet the anti-equality money will be in the billions.
I would also call attention to the reality that the same day President Obama was elected was the day that Proposition 8 in California passed. Who would have ever thought that a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality would pass in a state like California? The huge LGBT communities in San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego and else where. The place where the late Harvey Milk led a campaign to defeat proposition 6. How was it possible?
The National Organization for Marriage, the Catholic church, the Mormons, Concerned Women for America etc. And a fear campaign based on blatant ignorance of LGBT people and our issues.
I place these issues as part of my commentary because as we have been leading up to the moments when our Minnesota Legislature would debate and possibly pass a constitutional amendment, the one comment I keep hearing in my conversations with people is: “The voters of Minnesota will never pass an amendment like that.” I truly hope they are correct. But do we dare risk that possibility that we could be wrong about that?
My one concern for Minnesota’s LGBT community in the campaign to vote this amendment down is complacency. The thinking that because we are in Minnesota the amendment is sure to lose. That to me is dangerous thinking. And an almost guarantee that NOM, MFC, MCC and the Mormons just might win.
In 2009 the marriage amendment in Maine was on the edge of failure. Until, NOM and other anti-LGBT equality organizations went into the far north part of Maine with a fear campaign, telling people that LGBT people want to get married so we can go after children. As ridiculous and as false as the arguments were, they still won. Even with all the court filings against NOM for bad campaign financing, the amendment is still law in Maine.
I hope that will not be Minnesota’s story too.
However, I do suggest that Minnesota’s citizens who believe in equality and fairness for LGBT people not be complacent and just take our voting record for granted. Recent reports of Bemidji, Minnesota suggests that LGBT issues there have gone back to the 1970’s. We have many areas in Minnesota with very small LGBT populations. Conservative religious groups are active in many places throughout the State. Even without religious groups, there are still many socially conservative thinking people in those Out of State areas. We have our work cut out for us.
To win this campaign we are going to need everyone’s help. No amount of help will be too small. Whether you help through letters to the editors of newspapers, or help Outfront Minnesota, Project 515, or Marriage Equality Minnesota with money or time, everyone’s vigilance and input will be of the utmost importance.
Let no one say that there is nothing we can do to stop this amendment.
Let no one assume that the voters in out of State Minnesota will read all the commentaries as good as they are and will surely vote no on a marriage amendment ballot question.
The proponents of this amendment have called out the pink elephant in the room that no one is suppose to look at: “vote on marriage.” How are we going to frame our movement to help that movable middle understand that their vote in favor of this amendment means discrimination towards a minority group of people? I do hope complacency is not our answer.