Gay-marriage debate expands around state

Red Wing residents at Capitol rally

By Danielle Nordine

Advocates on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate say they are making progress and will continue to reach out to Minnesotan voters before they cast ballots on the issue this fall.

A proposed constitutional amendment voters will decide Nov. 6 would define marriage as between a man and a woman, outlawing same-sex marriage. It already is illegal in Minnesota, but putting the provision in the Constitution would make that more difficult to change.

As the election approaches, both sides are ramping up efforts and focusing on communities.

Gov. Mark Dayton told hundreds who oppose the amendment gathered at state Capitol Thursday he thinks the proponents’ campaign will be “destructive,” but said he hoped Minnesotans could come together to be the first state faced with the amendment to defeat it.

“I think Minnesota is better than that,” he said.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, encouraged those at the rally to spread their message through conversations and discussions within their communities.

Dibble, who is gay, said those in favor of the amendment are “not interested in civil discussion,” but such efforts would be more likely to sway voters.

Amendment supporters have been taking a similar approach.

Chuck Darrell, spokesman for Minnesota for Marriage, said outreach efforts have been going well so far and the group has been “especially pleased with the enthusiastic response.”

Minnesotans across the spectrum of race, age and religion have joined the group’s efforts, he said.

“In fact, we’re particularly proud of the diverse support we’re receiving,” he said. “A number of Minnesotans are standing up to say marriage needs to be preserved in our Constitution where activist judges and politicians can’t meddle with it.”

The group has been conducting pledge drives, running a call center and traveling around the state to speak in different communities. It also has been producing short videos answering key questions on why supporters back the amendment.

Efforts will only increase as the election approaches, both sides promised.

Sue Anderson of Duluth said she attended Thursday’s rally to “stand in solidarity with young people.”

She said as she gets older, she has noticed the difficulties couples who are not married face and wants to change that. She said those hurdles include owning real estate together, visiting rights in hospitals and handling inheritances.

“It could cost us thousands to deal with those issues and it still wouldn’t guarantee anything,” Anderson said.

Anderson and her partner will celebrate 28 years together on Sunday.

Members of the group Duluth United for All Families have been running phone banks and talking with community members, especially in faith communities, Anderson said. As the election approaches those efforts will increase, she said.

Bruce Ause of the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays group in Red Wing said he and his wife Kathy joined the group when his daughter came out and have since been “fighting for fairness and equality for all families.”

Speaking before the crowd on the Capitol lawn, he said members of the Red Wing community have been pitching in to fight the amendment, and PFLAG has been recruiting volunteers and holding informational events.

Ause thanked Republican Reps. Tim Kelly of Red Wing and John Kriesel of Cottage Grove for deviating from their party and voting against the amendment when it was before the Legislature last year.

“We are confident Minnesota can make history by being the first state in the country to defeat this attempt to enshrine discrimination in our Constitution,” Ause told a cheering crowd.

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More information on the gay-marriage issue is available at:

– www.minnesotaformarriage.com

– mnunited.org

Anderson

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