Symmetrical Couples and Asymmetrical Stadiums

Yesterday was a tough day for traditionalists.  If you like your weddings square and your stadiums oval, it was not your day.

The Minnesota Senate passed a law extending the freedom to marry to gay people.  A few hours later the Minnesota Vikings presented a stadium design that is more likely to be featured in the Hirshorn Museum than the Football Hall of Fame.

I feel for my conservative friends, who are hopelessly nostalgic for the glory days of their youth, when Ward and June were prototypical couples and football was played in Met Stadium’s glorious mud, wind and ice.  Yesterday, they were served a heapin’ helpin’ of contemporary change, and I know it was jarring for them.  As of this post, shrapnel from Joe Soucheray’s head reportedly has been found in three neighboring states. Continue reading

MN GOP Condemns Colleague for Endorsing Spherical Earth Theory

Saint Paul, MN — In the wake of two Minnesota Republicans’ shocking endorsements of  freedom-to-marry legislation, today Minnesota Representative Orville Nielsen (R-Outing)  further stunned the state’s political establishment by becoming the first member of his caucus to say he now believes that the planet Earth is probably not shaped like a disk.

Conservatives were quick to downplay the Nielsen announcement as an isolated example of a misguided member being bullied by “junk scientists,” and not the beginning of a movement toward a more science-friendly Republican Party.  A few Republican officials who asked not to be identified also expressed concern that Nielsen may be suffering from a mental illness. Continue reading

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

How The DFL Can Avoid The “Overstep” Label on Gay Marriage

A popular post mortem for Minnesota Republicans being drummed out of office in 2012 is that “they overstepped on social issues, especially spending all their time trying to ban gay marriage, instead of focusing on the bread-and-butter issues.”

 Is the DFL Now Overstepping Too?

So, are DFLers now doing the exact same thing by pursuing legislation legalizing gay marriage?

The situations are not entirely analogous.  There are important differences between what the Republicans did on gay marriage, and what the DFL is doing: Continue reading

The Anti-Amendment Amendment Lives

A little less than a year ago, I blogged at The Same Rowdy Crowd about One Minnesota Ballot Initiative I Could Support.

In said blog, Captain Obvious pointed out that Minnesota is supposed to have a representative democracy, where we elect leaders to make decisions for us, rather than a direct democracy, where elected officials pass the decision-making buck back to the voters who elected them to make decisions.

My specific complaint was about Minnesota conservatives’ rush toward a rash of constitutional amendments as a means of bypassing the normal two-branch lawmaking process, which includes a liberal Governor in possession of a veto pen.

I then proposed, somewhat cheekily, that: 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

Could Gay Rights Turnout Operation Sink the First Pro-Gay Marriage President in History?

In the Halloween season it’s always fun to tell far-fetched scary stories.  This one is pretty darn scary, and may not be as far-fetched as some.

What if the opponents of Minnesota’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage inadvertently helped unseat the first President in history to endorse gay marriage?

Here is how it could happen: Continue reading

Seriously, “Minnesotans for Marriage?” The Nazi Card?

Imagine for a moment that former Governor Jesse Ventura had compared the campaign of his 2010 U.S. gubernatorial opponent Norm Coleman to Nazi persecution.   Because Coleman is Jewish, and we all know that Jews were targeted for mass genocide by the Nazis, Ventura would have been rightfully derided by the press on the front pages, and rejected by many shocked Minnesotans.  The outrage would have been widespread, because comparing the persecuted to the persecutors is one of the most outrageous things any of us can imagine.

Well, yesterday it was reported on the Star Tribune blog that an official from the anti-freedom-to-marry group “Minnesotans for Marriage” shamefully played his own Nazi card.  Speaking to a group in Brainerd, Reverend Brad Brandon was selling the crowd on a parallel between Hitler’s suppression of religious freedom and the alleged suppression of religious freedom by supporters of the freedom to marry. 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?

Why Civil Unions Aren’t The Solution For Minnesotans Who Believe in Equality

A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released this week finds that 46% of Minnesotans support the gay marriage ban amendment, but 74% of Minnesotans think that gays should either be able to marry or form civil unions.

The large group of Minnesotans who support gay civil unions but not gay marriage are mostly not anti-gay. In some ways, it is encouraging to know that about half of the people supporting this moronic amendment actually support extending additional rights to gay people.  It’s also very bad news for Republicans that only one quarter of Minnesotans support their position.

Still, those Minnesotans who support gay civil unions but oppose gay marriage are wrong, wrong in a way that preserves inequality.  The fallacy of their logic needs to be exposed, because these folks are the persuadable swing voters who will determine the outcome of Minnesota’s constitutional amendment election.

Those who support gay civil unions but oppose gay marriage are misguided in two fundamental ways.

“Marriage” v. “Civil Union” Differences.  Many naively believe that civil unions bestow the same rights and respect as marriage.  Wrong.  The General Accounting Office (GAO) says the government provides 1,138 benefits to married couples that are not available to others. Tax benefits. Immigration rights.  Medical decision-making advantages.  Death benefits rights.  It’s a long list of legal distinctions that impact finances and quality-of-life.

But the equality difference between marriage and civil unions goes much deeper than the 1,138 benefits.

If the government told my wife and me today that it had stripped us of our marriage status, our first concern wouldn’t be about the loss of those benefits. Our more heartfelt concern would be that we were being stripped of society’s sacred recognition of our commitment and love.

Marriage is honored and cherished in our society in a way that is absolutely unique. It is put on a pedestal.  The stigma that would come if my wife and I were banned from claiming that special relationship status is what would most make us feel most unequal and stigmatized.  That’s what gay couples face.

Marriages bestow more legal and social benefits than civil unions.  In a nation built on the notion that all are created equal, it’s just not okay to have such inequality baked into one of our society’s most revered institutions.

Semantic Slavery.  Beyond those who mistakenly believe that marriage and civil unions are legally and socially equivalent, others essentially have a language hang-up.

In their minds, heterosexuality has always been at the core of the definition of the word “marriage,” and it just feels incongruous to them to adjust the definition. The vast majority of these folks don’t seem to hate gay people, or wish inequality on them.  They just can’t seem to get their head around that semantic shift.

I understand this position, because it was the position that I was taking when I was first exposed to this issue in the 1990s. Ultimately, I realized that my reasoning was silly.

After all, dictionaries are not written in stone.  Every year, scores of definitions are added, deleted and adjusted, based on how society’s use of the language is changing.  Languages evolve as societies evolve.  Therefore, we shouldn’t be denying people something as sacred as equality based on what lexicographers say. Lexicographers take their cues from society, not vice versa.  If a democratic society declares, in the name of equality, that marriage is open to everyone, then it is, and dictionaries will adjust accordingly.  Dictionary definitions shouldn’t rule the day.  Equality should rule the day.

Unlike the 24% of Minnesotans who oppose any kind of legal recognition for gay couples, I’m convinced that many of those who oppose gay marriage but support gay civil unions are “persuadables” when it comes to the constitutional amendment.  If they aren’t written off as “homophobes” and “haters,” some of them can be convinced that separate but equal doesn’t work any better for civil unions than it did for segregated schools.

– Loveland

Note:  This post was also featured as a “best of the best” in MinnPost’s Blog Cabin feature.

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

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

Hey General Mills, Make Pop Tarts, Not Politics

In this morning’s news, Best Buy and other corporations announced that they are joining a growing list of corporations pulling out of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ).  The corporations are doing so because they were worried about their valuable brands getting muddied from fallout due to ALEC’s aggressive advocacy of “stand your ground” gun laws, such as the one at the center of the tragic Trayvon Martin murder case in Florida.

Best Buy’s decision is smart brand management.  Goodness knows, it has enough issues of its own to solve.  Best Buy doesn’t need to add to its woes by putting its  brand in the middle of the political knife fights over the most polarizing political issues of our times.

Which brings me to General Mills and its opposition to the marriage ban amendment that will be on Minnesota ballots in November. Continue reading

Will Changes Among Religious Minnesotans Make the Difference In Minnesota’s Gay Marriage Vote?

One politically interesting aspect of the marriage ban amendment on Minnesota’s ballot this November is the potential Lutheran Effect.

Even if we didn’t have Garrison Keillor to constantly remind us, it’s no secret that Minnesota has a lot of Lutherans.  Wikipedia tells me that something like a million Minnesotans are Lutheran (24% of the state), with 81% of Minnesota worshiping under the banner of the  Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), which is much more progressive than the Missouri Synod brand of Lutherans.

In fact, Minnesota has one of the highest percentages of Lutherans of any state in the nation.  The religious landscape in Minnesota is vastly different than it is in, say, North Carolina, which recently was the latest in a long line of states to pass a marriage ban amendment.    Luternans are 24% of the population in Minnesota, but just 2% in North Carolina.

All of this raises the question:  What impact will Minnesota’s Lutheran-heavy religious landscape have on the marriage ban amendment Republicans have put on Minnesota’s November ballot.

Relatively speaking, the Lutherans are progressive on the issue of gay rights.  Four synods of the local ELCA-ers recently formally opposed the Minnesota marriage ban amendment pushed by Minnesota’s social conservatives, and I don’t think the votes were close.

Lutheranophile Garrison Keillor observes:

“Lutherans…are the sort of people you could call up when you’re in deep distress. If you’re dying, they’ll comfort you. If you’re lonely, they’ll talk to you. And if you’re hungry, they’ll give you tuna salad.”

And if you’re discriminated against?

This charitable attitude looks to be even stronger among young Lutherans.  For instance, a popular song among Lutheran youth, “Party in the ELCA” (a parody of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA”) has the following lyrics:

“We’re coming as we are (sinners and saints),
Doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay.
YEAH! It’s a party in the ELCA!

“Doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay,” indeed.  This “Party in the ELCA” is not exactly the type of religious party the Minnesota Republican Party is hoping for on Election Day 2012.

And it’s not just the Lutheran Effect.  It’s now also the Methodist Effect.  Over the weekend, the Methodists just took  basically the same position as the ELCA.  Methodists make up another 4% of Minnesotans, making them the fourth largest denomination in Minnesota, just behind the Baptists at 5%.

And what about Catholics, who are almost tied with Lutherans as the top religion in Minnesota, claiming 25% of the population?  Can we presume that Minnesota Catholics want to ban gay marriage?

Yes, but it’s not as overwhelming as some might think.  If Minnesota Catholics are anything like national Catholics, 46% of national Catholics support gay marriage, rapidly trending upwards from 40% in 2007.

Hmmm, the times are changing for Catholics too?  “Doesn’t matter if your straight or gay?  It’s a party in the Opus Dei?”

Many Minnesota social conservatives seem to make the mistake of assuming that the  marriage ban amendment debate is a strictly battle of the religious versus the irreligious, and that they will therefore easily win because the irreligious are so few (14% in Minnesota).

But increasingly, religious Minnesotans – looking to the empathetic teachings of the Golden Rule and the tolerance teachings of the Sermon on the Mount – are opposing gay bashing schemes like the proposed marriage ban amendment.

– Loveland


Note:  This post also was featured as a “best of the best” on Minnpost’s Blog Cabin feature.

Three Myths About Minnesotans and Same Sex Marriage

A recent SurveyUSA poll of Minnesotans included this question:

“President Obama says that same sex couples should be able to get married.  Do you agree with the president? Or disagree?”

The poll findings bust three popular myths about Minnesotans and same sex marriage:

Myth #1:  “Over Greater Minnesota’s Dead Body.”   The political conventional wisdom goes like this:  “The purple haired hipsters in Uptown may be for gay marriage, but traditional Main Street folks in Greater Minnesota will never stand for it.”  That conventional wisdom is wrong.  There is very little regional difference in support for gay marriage.  Support is roughly the same in the Twin Cities (53%), southern Minnesota (54%), and western Minnesota (51%).  Those three regions all fall within the 4% margin of error.  Only northeastern Minnesota (49% support) falls below the majority threshold, and is statistically different from the Twin Cities, but just barely.   Republicans need to realize that Main Street is not Narrow Street.

Myth #2:  “Only Radical Liberal Extremists Want Gay Marriage.”   This has been the conservative line for years.  But it doesn’t stand up to the data.  A pretty solid majority (55%) of self-described “moderates” and “independents” (54%) in Minnesota agree with the President on gay marriage.  If a majority of moderates support something, it can hardly be considered radical.  Support for gay marriage is now a mainstream position in Minnesota.

Myth #3:  “Marriage ban amendments pass everywhere, so it can’t be defeated in Minnesota.”  This poll found that 52% of Minnesotans support the President’s position and 42% oppose it.  There is a long way to go before the November election, but if this isn’t a dead myth, it is surely a rapidly dying one.  Literally.  The biggest source of opposition comes from people over 65 years old (only 33% support) support, and as time marches on younger generations will hold more electoral sway.  The support among Minnesota’s 18-34 year olds is running at an overwhelming 68%.

It’s very clear where this issue is headed.  In 2012, gay Minnesotans are hardly the societal aberrations they’ve been portrayed to be my whole life.  Statistically speaking, the 82% of Tea Partiers who adamantly oppose Obama on gay marriage are now the societal aberrations.