June 6, 2011

Both sides gearing up for gay marriage vote

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Organizations on both sides of the gay marriage debate have already begun efforts to influence voters.

After more than five hours of emotional debate, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex couples from marrying passed the Legislature on May 21. Minnesotans will vote on the measure in November 2012.

OutFront Minnesota, a gay rights and equality organization based in Minneapolis, has started a new campaign called Minnesotans United for All Families, which will directly address the proposed amendment. OutFront Executive Director Monica Meyer said the campaign has begun fundraising.

The campaign will use many different tactics to get voters’ attention, such as door-knocking, phone calls and advertisements, Meyer said. The state-wide campaign will target places like college campuses and places of worship.

OutFront volunteers spent days in St. Paul to protest the amendment before its passage.

“The vote at the Capitol was really disappointing and heartbreaking to find out that we have legislators who decided that they were going to put forward an amendment that only hurts families,” Meyer said.

College Republicans at the University of Minnesota have no official position on the amendment, chairwoman Julie Collier said. She said there tends to be differences of opinion within the group on social issues.

“I’d say that younger members of the Republican Party are becoming more socially liberal, but stay fiscally conservative,” Collier said.

She said she plans to vote against the amendment next November, and that other members had already taken part in demonstrations against the amendment.

The Minnesota Family Council is also gearing up for a campaign in support of the amendment, President Tom Prichard said.

“We view the next year and a half as an opportunity to engage the people of Minnesota in a discussion on the importance of marriage, and why children having a mother and a father is important, and why that should be state policy,” Prichard said.

“Certainly the amendment will require a lot of work and effort, but we think people will be supportive of it.”

Gov. Mark Dayton issued a symbolic veto of the measure May 25, urging Minnesotans to vote against it next November. But the proposed amendment will appear on the 2012 ballot, as the governor has no influence on proposed amendments that have won legislative approval.

Prior to his election, Dayton ran on a pro-gay marriage campaign.

“I urge Minnesotans to reject this mean-spirited, divisive, un-Minnesotan and un-American amendment,” Dayton wrote in his veto

letter.

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