Is Legalizing Gay Marriage a Minnesota Jobs Program?

Governor Mark Dayton used his State of the State Address last night to endorse legalizing gay marriage in Minnesota.   And right on cue, Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston) took the Republicans’ most predictable jab:

 “He’d rather talk about gays getting married instead of getting Minnesotans jobs that could provide for their families.”

We’re going to be hearing a lot more of that claim from Republicans in the weeks to come, so the argument merits dissection. Continue reading

A Thank You Note for Minnesota Republicans

Dear Minnesota Republicans:

We just wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you for the gift of your marriage ban amendment.  Such a thoughtful idea!

We must admit, we didn’t appreciate your gift to its fullest when we first unwrapped it last spring.  To be candid, we thought it was kinda ugly.  We wanted to throw it away.  But we couldn’t.

As it turns out, though, it was one of the most beautiful gifts we’ve ever received. Continue reading

Brodkorb Says Gay Marriage Opponents Are Being Used As Political Pawns. Photo ID Supporters Too?

Michael Brodkorb, former top political strategist for Minnesota Republicans, recently made it perfectly clear that the Republican-proposed gay marriage ban amendment was motivated by politics, not principles.

As WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler reported:

 In an interview with WCCO, Mr. Brodkorb Continue reading

Is Target Still Playing Kingmaker?

About 16-months ago at Minnesota-based Target Corporation’s annual meeting in Pittsburgh, an embattled Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel stressed that Target would heretofore remain neutral on the issue of gay rights, but would continue to make political donations.   A June 9, 2011 Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal headline characterized the balancing act Steinhafel was attempting:

CEO: Target will be neutral on marriage vote, will still give politically

Steinhafel’s neutrality pledge came on the heels of a customer backlash prompted by the corporation making a large political donation to anti-gay rights Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.  Remember all the news stories, boycotts, social media rants, and flash dance protests?

At the time Steinhafel made this announcement in Pittsburgh, I wondered how Target could  possibly manage to support political candidates while keeping its neutrality pledge, since virtually all candidates take positions on gay rights issues.   After all, the world community would no longer consider Switzerland neutral if it was funding a combatant.

So, what is Target doing now?  In the 2012 election, what candidates are being funded by Target, or has Target decided to stay out of politics altogether?

My drive-by Googling can’t find the answer to this question.  After all that coverage and controversy in 2010 and 2011, could it be no business or political reporter has followed up with Target?

Minnesota Group Announces Broader Marriage Ban For 2014

SAINT PAUL, MN — The lead group pushing to ban gay Minnesotans from marrying announced today that it plans to expand its efforts to protect traditional marriage.

“We don’t hate gays, we just believe traditional marriage is about procreation, something gay couples simply cannot do,” said Homer Fobe, a spokesman for Minnesotans for Our Kind of Marriage (MOKM).  “So to prove the 2012 initaitive isn’t about gay bashing, in 2014 we’re also going to push to nullify marriages for heterosexual couples who are not having children.”

Fobe said the group would propose a ballot initiative to amend the Minnesota Constitution to nullify marriages of Minnesota heterosexual couples who reach the age of 44 without bearing any children. Continue reading

Ballot Language Ruling Easily Could Come Back To Bite Minnesota GOP

In the wake of yesterday’s Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the GOP Legislature’s ballot wording for two proposed constitutional amendments, endzone-dancing Republican leaders should keep something in mind.

The Supremes did not rule in favor of the Republican Party.  They ruled in favor of the legislature branch.   Important difference.

Here is what the Court said:

The proper role for the judiciary, however, is not to second-guess the wisdom of policy decisions that the constitution commits to one of the political branches.

The Secretary of State exceeded his authority … when he provided titles different from those passed by the Legislature.”

Granted, that’s good news for Republicans this year, because they’re the ones currently controlling  the legislative “policy decisions” of which the Court speaks.

But in future years, the same ruling could easily turn out to be very bad news for Republicans.  After all, the way Minnesota’s long-term demographics are trending – with the most rapid population growth happening in demographic groups historically more supportive of DFL candidates – the prospect of permanent GOP control of the Legislature is far from certain.

Future DFL-controlled Legislatures, stinging from the constitutional word games Republicans have played during their leadership reign, could do something equally absurd, or even more absurd.

For instance, a DFL-controlled Legislature could propose a constitutional amendment to require an enormous tax on the wealthiest Minnesotans to finance, let’s say, vacation homes for DFL leaders, or something else completely reckless.  Furthermore, taking a page out of the GOP’ 2012 playbook, the DFL-controlled Legislature could then deceptively present this proposal to voters on their ballots in benign-sounding euphamisms:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to support fairness in housing financing in Minnesota, effective July 1, 2015?”

As I understand yesterday’s ruling, the Supremes wouldn’t overrule that kind of a hypothetical ballot wording scam.  Not their job.  I exaggerate in my example, for I am a blogger and exaggeration is what we do, but you get the general idea.

This is not a problem that is going to go away under the status quo approach to wording ballot questions.  The majority party in the Legislature will probably continue to play word games in their drafting, and, again, the majority party may not always be to Speaker Zellers’ liking.

A few days ago I proposed what seems to me to be a more fair way of drafting ballot questions.  Whether the reform comes off of my cocktail napkin, or from someone who actually knows what they’re doing, reform of the current ballot initiative drafting system is needed.   If Minnesota politicians are going to persist in continually trying to amend the State Constitution to tickle their political fancy — and it seems pretty certain that they are — we need to at least get the proposals described to voters clearly and fairly.

– Loveland

Anti-Marriage Ban Ads Are Rove-esque

Bare knuckles political consultant Karl Rove was famous for advising former President George W. Bush and other conservative clients to attack their opponents’ strengths, rather than their weaknesses.  For instance, Bush’s 2004 opponent John Kerry was a war veteran and hero, while Bush got a draft deferment.  But before Rove was done, Kerry’s heroism somehow was twisted to be a political weakness, rather than the strength it should have been.

Fortunately, gay marriage supporters have taken Rove’s strategy to heart, and this time are using the power of the strategy for good instead of evil.  Two ads they recently released go directly at the strengths of the groups trying to ban the freedom to marry – the skepticism of the elderly and aggressive opposition of some religious leaders.

These ads counter the conventional wisdom that religious leaders and seniors are universally opposed to gay marriage.  It frames the issue as a referendum on love, individual freedom and religious freedom.  It shows that skeptics’ opinions are evolving, and that even historic opponents are seeing the issue in a new light.

These are outstanding ads, alternatively moving, funny and thought-provoking.  And again, they go directly at the strengths of the marriage banners.   If he could manage to get over his anti-gay bigotry, Karl Rove would approve.

– Loveland