Archived Story

Both amendments go down

Published 11:25am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Minnesota voters turned back two constitutional amendments Tuesday, defeating proposals to ban gay marriage and require a photo ID for voting that had once been seen as likely winners.

Minnesota’s rejection of the gay marriage ban was just one piece of a big night for gay activists and their allies nationwide.

A local activist was thrilled with the defeat of the marriage amendment on the state ballot Tuesday, saying the constitution was no place to write in discrimination. However, on the other side of the issue, the defeat served as a lesson: Minnesotans believe morality can’t be legislated.

Ellen Eastby, who worked with Minnesotans United locally, hosting house parties and talking with residents about the issue, said she was so happy about the defeat that she was in tears.

“I stood on the side of no,” she said. “I stood on the side of marriage, love and commitment,” regardless of what that marriage might look like.

Fr. Greg Paffel, priest at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Fergus Falls, supported the amendment, working with the Bishops of Minnesota and supporting the Knights of Columbus in supporting the traditional values of marriage.

“I think we need to continue to work for the greatest good in society, which I believe is upholding marriage between a man and a woman,” he said. “How it plays out is in the hands of the people.”

State results on the marriage amendment were 1,536,853 against (52 percent) to 1,398,500 (47.64 percent) in favor of marriage between one man and one woman.

In Otter Tail County, the vote was a strong yes for the amendment, at 21,180 or 67 percent, to 10,202 or 32 percent against changing the constitution.

The defeat of the photo ID requirement was just as surprising, with the proposal drawing strong support in polls for months. Both amendments were put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Those same Republicans also lost their House and Senate majorities on Tuesday.

State residents voted down the Voter ID amendment 1,534,551 (53 percent) to 1,361,082 (46 percent). Otter Tail County residents were in favor of the ID amendment 17,707 (56 percent) to 13,514 (43 percent).

“This conversation doesn’t end tonight. It’s only just begun,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which fought the gay marriage ban. “Because we beat this amendment, Minnesota is in a position to ensure that the next generation can participate in the conversation about who can participate in marriage.”

Gay marriage remains illegal under Minnesota state law. The amendment would have put that prohibition in the constitution. But the outcome of the vote, and the Democratic takeover of the Legislature, is likely to initiate a push for legal gay marriage in the state.

Andy Parrish, deputy campaign manager for Minnesota for Marriage, which pushed the ban, was not ready to concede early Wednesday morning. “I think we’re going to wait for the rest of the results to come in and see what the final results are in the morning,” he said.

Conservatives around the country have been pressing to require photo ID for voting in the last several years. Eric Fought, spokesman for the campaign that opposed the measure in Minnesota, said its backers never convinced voters that the requirement was actually necessary.

“They did not provide the details people needed to vote yes on this. There were too many questions left unanswered and too many doubts,” Fought said.

Dan McGrath, who led the campaign for the measure, said he and supporters would “continue to work towards greater integrity and transparency in our election process.”

According to exit poll data, the marriage ban was opposed by a majority of women and backed by a majority of men. Votes were also divided by age, with voters under 50 against it by a substantial majority and those over 50 strongly in favor. Seven in 10 voters who attend religious services, and four in five born-again or evangelical voters supported it. The vote also split by party lines: three in four Democrats said they voted against it, and three in four Republicans backed it.

Both measures sparked campaigns that were far more heated than usual for constitutional amendments. The marriage amendment mobilized thousands of volunteers and attracted more than $16 million in campaign contributions, drawing more passion than the state’s presidential or Senate contests. Voters held strong opinions.

Kevin Gensch, a human resources manager, is gay but said that’s not why he voted against the ban.

“I don’t think the constitution should be amended for any reason for a social issue,” said Gensch, 34, after voting in St. Louis Park, an inner-ring Minneapolis suburb. “This is marrying church and state by putting this kind of amendment on the constitution. It doesn’t belong there.”

Strategy for all four campaigns against gay marriage, including Minnesota’s, was directed by Frank Schubert, a California-based consultant who’s become the nation’s top political operative trying to stop the spread of gay marriage. But he was fighting demographic changes, with poll after poll nationwide showing that young people in increasing numbers support the right of gays to get married.

Opponents of Minnesota’s amendment tried to persuade moderate and swing voters, aiming their TV ads at married couples and straight men in particular. That drew backlash from some gay activists, dismayed that none of the ads actually featured speaking parts for gay people who would be most affected by the amendment. The campaign also reached out more widely to various demographic groups, using narrowly targeted phone banks to reach senior citizens, younger voters and various ethnic and minority groups. The campaign for the amendment targeted much of its get-out-the-vote efforts on churchgoers.

Democratic politicians had argued that photo ID requirements were meant to make voting tougher for certain groups that tend to favor Democrats: elderly people, the poor, college students and members of minority groups. Local government officials also said the ID requirement would be a costly mandate.

A quirk in Minnesota law means a ballot where the voter skips one or both of the amendments is counted as a “no” vote against the amendment that was skipped. But in both cases, more people voted against the amendments than voted for them.

AP and Journal reports

  • Richard Olson

    The voters of Minnesota saw through the voter ID ploy as nothing short of a power grab by conservatives. They also told the Catholic Church and other religious people to mind your own business and keep your beliefs to yourselves.

  • AFMama

    Richard – For some reason the site wouldn’t let me comment on what you responded on my comment…yes, it is illegal for now, but there will be a push to legalize same sex marriage. The MN ACLU has put out some “facts” about what won’t happen if it is legalized. I don’t see how they can guarantee their “facts” if it is legalized.


    I say we vote on an amendment that gives the right to anyone currently in Minnesota on a voting day the right to vote and since we won’t require ID, they can be illegal immigrants, ANY age as long as they can color in the oval, any kind of mental capacity as long as someone is with them to guide their voting, felons (since we won’t know who they are-it won’t matter),visitors from other countries -who’s going to know?- or our dogs for that matter-is there anything that says only humans can vote?
    …and we will mind our own business and keep our beliefs to ourselves but don’t expect me to pay for abortion because that’s somebody else’s business, not mine and don’t expect a Christmas present.

    • benny

      Hehe…. what’s funny is you think all that stuff actually happens, and happens frequently.

      Elections aren’t impacted by illegal immigrants or fraudulent voting. Hell, we can’t even get enough legal voters to the polls. Illegal immigrants, kids, and dogs, are not the problem.

      I would appreciate it if you minded your own business. I’m not quite sure I follow you though… did some teen recently force you to pay for her abortion or was that something you just made up because it sounded emphatic?

      No worries, I won’t expect a Christmas OR birthday gift from you. For Arbor Day though, you better get me a fifth of JB.

      Turn off Rush Limbaugh and Fox Noise, you’ll be smarter for it.

    • Richard Olson

      So you’re against equal access to health care for poor women. Even in cases of rape and incest. Don’t worry Nancy I doubt many people would want a present from you.

  • Walt Henry

    It might be too early in the grieving process of some to read this but I believe it is true that all things work together for good for them who are so inclined to receive the goodness. If that is difficult for you to believe consider how the majority of colonists must have felt when a minority of no more than 30% sent a Declaration of Independence to the mother country of England. That seems to have worked out ok. And where are the personnel conflicts now that gays are able to serve openly in the military?
    Let’s hope the DFL, to whom we have given total control of our state government, doesn’t follow the mistake of the GOP and pursue the opposite of the radical right wing social agenda we just freed ourselves from.
    This state needs to focus on financial stability and our economic future.

    • AFMama

      Well, after serving our country for over 20 years, I saw numerous people use the “I’m gay” statement in order to get out of assignments, deploying, etc and thus they were kicked out of the military. Since it costs a lot of money to put people through training, it makes sense to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, it saves the govt money. Plus when your boss in the oval office decides to flip-flop on the issue, you kinda have to go w/ him since he signs your paychecks too.

  • Walt Henry

    Oh, I forgot to add, let’s hope the DFL can find the money to get snow plows back out on the metro freeways at night so people can get to work on time in the morning after a night time snow fall. (A snow free highway is not one of those things a person can “build on their own”.

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