State Fair becomes first battleground on anti-gay marriage amendment


A poll by the Minnesota House of Representatives at the Minnesota State Fair has become a rally point for both supporters and opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state nearly 17 months before the vote in Nov. 2012.

The Minnesota House of Representatives State Fair poll is an annual event where fair-goers can stop by the booth and weigh in on issues facing the state. This year, the unscientific poll will feature a question about the amendment.

“The Minnesota House of Representatives has a booth at this year’s state fair, which is featuring their annual State Fair Poll where people can vote yes on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment,” Minnesota for Marriage said in a press release. “By visiting the booth inside the fairgrounds, fair-goers will also receive the chance to weigh in on other high profile issues that will be on the November 2012 statewide ballot in Minnesota. Hurry! We are already halfway through the fair, which ends on Labor Day, Sept. 5th. Make your voice heard and vote yes on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment!”

Minnesota for Marriage — a coalition of the Minnesota Family Council, the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage — is in attendance to educate Minnesotans about why the affiliated groups want the Minnesota Constitution to bar marriage for same-sex couples. The materials being handed out by pro-amendment forces have come under fire from critics who say they are fact-challenged.

The group originally had a booth outside the fair, but Minnesota for Marriage announced Thursday it has secured space within the fairgrounds.

“Initially, our coalition could not secure space inside the fairgrounds, so we set up just outside in front of the Church of the Holy Childhood,” said John Helmberger of Minnesota For Marriage. “Thankfully, we have been able to secure space inside the fair itself, and are now set up at Underwood St. and Wright Avenue, positioned directly under the Wright Avenue sign. We are delighted to be on the Fair grounds and expanding our dialogue with fair-goers about why the Minnesota Marriage Amendment is needed.”

On the other side, Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition of organizations that oppose the amendment, is urging its supporters to vote “no” in the House poll.

“From now until Labor Day, families will be gathering at the Minnesota State Fair to eat food on a stick, ride roller-coasters, meet livestock from all over the state and … cast a straw poll vote on whether two people who love each other can get married,” Minnesotans United said in a statement. “The Minnesota House of Representatives is hosting a straw poll at the State Fair, asking if Minnesotans support the upcoming anti-marriage constitutional amendment. We have an opportunity to show our opposition by showing up in force to vote NO!”

Minnesotans United also has a presence at the fair, including support at the booths of the DFL, Independence and Green parties.

The Uptake caught up with opponents of the amendment this week who are holding panel discussions about the issue.