Marriage amendment signs reported missingIn just a few weeks, Minnesotans will be voting on a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would ban gay marriage. In May 2011, the Minnesota Legislature voted to place the issue on the November 2012 ballot. The question will read: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in Minnesota?”
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
In just a few weeks, Minnesotans will be voting on a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would ban gay marriage. In May 2011, the Minnesota Legislature voted to place the issue on the November 2012 ballot. The question will read: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in Minnesota?”
A poll by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C. released on Sept. 12 found the state split, with proponents ahead by just one percentage point (48 to 47 percent). Five percent say they are unsure how they’ll vote. The margin of error is estimated to be plus or minus 3.4 percent, making the contest a virtual dead heat.
“It looks like Minnesota’s marriage amendment will go down to the wire. Voters are very closely divided in their attitudes about it,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling in an article released by the group. The poll also found that women oppose the ban 52-41 percent, Democrats oppose it by 76-16 percent and people under the age of 45 oppose it 50-45 percent. Men polled support the ban 55-41 percent, with Republicans supporting it by a margin of 80-17 percent and senior citizens supporting it by 53-40 percent.
Lake County residents on both sides have weighed in, some in the pages of the News-Chronicle, some by posting lawn signs, others by actively engaging in organized campaigns. To date, 13 city councils in the state have passed resolutions opposing the ban, and influential groups like the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics have formally announced their opposition. The MCAAP released a statement to that effect on Aug. 28, saying, “As an advocate for children and their families, MN-AAP believes this amendment would be harmful to the health and well-being of children and adolescents in Minnesota.”
The issue took on another dimension in Lake County, however, when on Thursday night or Friday morning, the 3x8 foot sign Larry Groothausen of Two Harbors bought in support of the amendment went missing. The sign, which Groothausen said represents the opinion of his parish, was tied between two trees in the yard of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
“There are other lawn signs in other cities that have disappeared and now it’s happening here, he said. “That’s theft.” A second sign was purchased and tied to the tree on Saturday and was gone by Sunday morning, he said. Groothausen says he has ordered another sign to replace the two that disappeared.
Although there is no proof to support his claim, Groothaus said he thinks the sign was taken by someone who opposes the amendment.
“People who oppose the amendment have a right to think and speak as well as anyone else, but so do we,” he said.
A local opponent of the amendment said it was unlikely that someone on her side was responsible.
“The people involved with the Vote No campaign would not do this,” said Sue Hillyard, volunteer for Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition of more than 600 organizations who oppose the amendment. She has heard conversations on both sides of the issue, from religious communities and across the spectrum of political arguments, but says for her it’s important for Minnesotans to understand that it’s about people, not just an issue.
“I have a lot of friends in the GLBT community who are being cheated out of freedoms that I have,” she said with tears welling in her eyes. “This is a very emotional issue for me.”
Hillyard, the grandmother of 14, said she thinks about her grandchildren and wants them all to have equal opportunity. “I would hate to think that a decision I made today would deny one of my grandchildren happiness tomorrow,” she said.
Groothausen said opponents have called him stupid and a bigot for standing up for the marriage issue.
“I’m not a hate monger, I don’t hate anyone. I have nothing against gay couples or people,” he said. “I believe what I stand for is for the common good of society.”
Minnesotans will decide on the issue November 6.