Minnesota Gov. “vetoes” anti-gay amendment bill

It has no effect on the anti-gay marriage amendment Minnesota’s homophobic legislature has sent voters for the 2012 ballot, but the veto that Governor Mark Dayton symbolically issued today is not without its praise.

“I do not have the power to prevent this divisive and destructive constitutional amendment from appearing on the ballot, in November 2012, the Legislature sent it to me in the form of a bill,” writes Gov. Dayton in a letter to the Minnesota legislature. “Thus, symbolic as it my be, I am exercising my legal responsibility to either sign or veto it. The path of social progress, of human compassion and understanding, would be tragically reversed by this amendment. Minnesotans are better than this. I urge Minnesotans to reject this amendment.”

Kids, this is what political courage looks like. Standing up for what you believe – equal rights for all when the darkness surrounds you.

Good for Gov. Mark Dayton. This is what a hero looks like. Take a very good look.

Minnesota Senate approves gay marriage ban referendum

Just sad news from Minnesota.

The Minnesota Senate voted on Wednesday to put a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state to a voter referendum in 2012.

Minnesota already has a law banning gay marriage, but sponsors argued that the proposed amendment would take the definition out of the hands of a small group of legislators and even smaller group of judges.

After hours of debate, the Senate voted 38 to 27 in favor of advancing the proposal, with the vote largely along party lines in the Republican majority body.

Republican lawmakers introduced the proposed amendment in late April and it next needs approval in the Republican majority state House.

“I believe it is the people who should determine the meaning and structure of our policies through the process of political debate, a statewide community conversation and ultimately democratic voting,” said state Senator Warren Limmer, a Maple Grove Republican and sponsor of the proposal.

Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, who strongly opposes any constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, also would be bypassed by putting the question directly to voters.

“We are not going to have a conversation, we are going to have an ugly, angry, divisive campaign,” Senator Scott Dibble, a Minneapolis Democrat, said during the debate.

Dibble, who is gay and showed a picture of his partner in the debate, said Minnesota would be “profoundly changed through this 18-month experience that we are about to embark on.”

Senate Democrats also questioned the drive to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot less than two weeks before the end of the legislative session with the state’s $5.1 billion budget gap still unresolved.

“It sends a pretty clear message to me that Republicans in this body care more about passing their divisive social agenda than putting Minnesotans back to work or balancing the state’s budget,” Senate Minority Leader Thomas Bakk said.
(from Reuters)

MN Editorial: Don’t put bigotry up for a vote

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: “In the less enlightened days of America’s past, it was illegal in some places for blacks to marry whites, for women to vote and for people of color to occupy the same public spaces as whites.”

“The laws were racist, sexist and discriminatory — and the nation came to understand the human toll. Unfortunately, we’re still struggling to get it right when it comes to same-sex marriage.”

“A proposal sailing through the Legislature would only make matters worse here in Minnesota. Committees of both the House and Senate have passed measures that call for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.”

“Passing a misguided gay marriage ban by referendum would cement inequity into the state Constitution. Requiring a majority vote to affirm minority rights is inherently discriminatory.”

“Many of our nation’s civil, human and women’s rights laws might never have passed if they were put to a vote. Instead, those advances usually came through legislative and court decisions that valued human rights more than special-interest politics.”

Bravo to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Read the entire editorial here.

Minnesota Senate passes marriage equality ban

By a vote of 8-4 (along party lines) the Minnesota Senate Judiciary committee has passed a bill that would place a voter initiative to ban same-sex marriage in the state on next year’s ballot.

Hundreds of Minnesotans jammed a Capitol hearing room to argue for and against a constitutional amendment, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

From the Minnesota Independent: Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, said, “I will never in this Legislature, will never vote — even if it means I’m voted out — to put language of discrimination in the constitution.”

“I could not live with myself, and those of you who claim to be good Christians, you need to think about what you are doing here,” she added.

But Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, said the issue isn’t about discrimination and civil rights: “Marriage isn’t a right. Nowhere in the federal Constitution or the Minnesota Constitution is marriage considered a right.”

Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, said the measure does nothing to support the principles the nation was founded on. “I cannot see in this bill anything that promotes life, anything that promotes liberty — if anything, it seems to restrict liberty. I cannot see anything that will promote the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “It sends a chilling message that it is OK to discriminate. It sends the message that gays in Minnesota are ‘less than.’”

Sen. Goodwin suggested that, if supporters wanted to preserve the “sanctity” of marriage, the bill should also support a ban on divorce in heterosexual marriages. She proposed tweaking the text of the bill to add the words “for life” — limiting marriage to one per person per lifetime. Her effort failed, which she said illustrated that the bill “isn’t based on an issue of how sacred marriage is — it’s an issue of discrimination.”

The bill now moves on to the Senate Rules committee.

Stay tuned.

Lesbian students enter to cheers at High School Pep Rally

Two lesbian high school students who fought for the right to walk together as part of a royalty court made their entrances Monday to the cheers of hundreds of classmates.

Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton wore matching black suits with pink ties and held hands as they entered the Snow Days Pep Fest at Champlin Park High School in Minneapolis’ northwest suburbs.

“It felt amazing,” said Shelton, adding that she was too nervous to notice dozens rise to give her a standing ovation as she walked in with Lindstrom. “I think we were too focused on getting to the stage.”

Champlin Park is part of the Anoka-Hennepin school district, Minnesota’s largest, which has been in the spotlight in the past year for its handling of issues involving gay and lesbian students.

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