Get ready for another marriage amendment push

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The social conservatives’ buzz over the Iowa court decision striking down that state’s Defense of Marriage Act continues in Minnesota as right-wing types ratchet up the push for a constitutional amendment in the next legislative session. The common denominator among them seems to be Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten.

Jeff Davis of Minnesota Majority, “a new conservative grassroots organization,” views the Iowa decision as a call to reigniting the push for a constitutional amendment. “I think as Katherine Kersten pointed out in her column this week, the only certain protection for marriage in Minnesota is a constitutional amendment,” Davis told Michael Brodkorb and Rep. Laura Brod, R-New Prague, on AM 1280 last Saturday.

Opinion: Get ready for another marriage amendment push

Davis wasn’t alone in using Kersten’s column to get the social conservative base excited about another amendment battle. The Minnesota Family Council sent out three email solicitations in the past week asking supporters to donate to its cause.

“Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten’s article, ‘As Iowa shows, a marriage law isn’t enough,’ points out that ex-Sen. Dean Johnson ‘was so eager to downplay this judicial threat to marriage that he claimed that several Supreme Court justices had assured him they would not overturn Minnesota’s Defense of Marriage act. After an inquiry found no evidence of this, Johnson’s constituents sent him packing,'” the council’s email read.
Citing its involvement in targeting Johnson, the council asked for financial support to continue its newsletter. “Often, the Pro Family news is Minnesota’s lone pro-family voice in an otherwise anti-marriage, anti-traditional family, anti-faith media environment.”

The Minnesota Family Council also sends readers to two posts praising Kersten’s column on its blog. “Kersten writes that some ‘DFL honchos’ in Minnesota don’t understand that the only safe place for marriage in Minnesota is in the state Constitution,” one post says. Another quotes her column heavily. Chuck Darrell, council communications director,(comma) called the column “Well said.”

And it sounds like social conservatives and Republicans intend to make a marriage amendment a top priority next year. Brodkorb asked Rep. Brod on AM 1280, “Do you think that because of the Iowa decision that there will be a lot of discussion this legislative session on gay marriage and that issue in general?”

“I think obviously any decision like that gears up the issue and puts it ahead on the table,” said Brod,(comma) likening the decision to the Kelo v. City of New London case that dealt with property rights in 2005. “I would expect that the Iowa decision would have the same kind of impact,” Brod said.

But the “protection of traditional marriage” isn’t the true agenda for any member of this amendment-promoting echo chamber. The goal is no relationship rights whatsoever for same-sex couples.

“We are seeing pro-homosexual legislators trying to incrementally legalize homosexual marriage even in the state Legislature,” Minnesota Majority’s Davis told Brodkorb and Brod on AM 1280. “Last session there were four individual bills that were essentially there to put into law the recognition of same-sex unions. The only explanation for this is to essentially codify into law a status that then can be used to essentially force this down the throats of Minnesota citizens.”

Last session, OutFront Minnesota lobbied for four bills aimed at providing some benefits for same-sex couples. Realizing that Minnesotans aren’t interested in full relationship rights for same-sex couples, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender advocacy group now is working on initiatives that Minnesotans do support: hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples, allowing local units of government to determine for themselves whether they would like to provide health benefits to same-sex partners of employees, and providing health benefits for the same-sex partners of state workers.

“OutFront Minnesota has stated on several occasions that their efforts to legalize same-sex marriage will focus on the Minnesota State legislature,” wrote Darrell of the family council.

Meanwhile, OutFront disputes that characterization of the efforts. “OutFront Minnesota is not advocating for ‘marriage equality’ at the legislature. We’re advocating for common sense protections for GLBT families,” said OutFront’s communications director Jo Mariscano. “Our stand has been that there is no critical mass for marriage at this time in Minnesota. However, we believe that Minnesotans would favor protections for GLBT families that currently don’t exist such as the hospital visitation, state employee domestic partner benefits, and local domestic partner enabling legislation that passed the legislature but were blocked by the governor this year.”

While polling shows that Minnesotans do not favor same-sex marriage, polling has shown that Minnesotans support allowing municipalities to provide benefits.

The social conservative echo chamber opposes ALL efforts to gain benefits for same-sex families, even if they don’t come right out and say it. And when Minnesotans again become disillusioned with the distractions that come from the push for an amendment, they should know who is keeping the issue a firestorm: Katherine Kersten, and her friends at the Minnesota Family Council and Minnesota Majority.