Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) decried budget negotiations with Republican legislators this week as “theater of the absurd” and gave the party’s leadership a deadline of 10 days to send him their budget. With only four weeks left to address a $5 billion budget shortfall, they have responded by introducing a referendum to ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution.
Minnesota faces no threat of same-sex marriage, having passed its own Defense of Marriage Act in 1997. Still, Sen. Warren Limmer (R), the bill’s chief author who has fast-tracked it to a committee vote, thinks it’s a pressing issue:
Personally I don’t think there’s going to be that much backlash on this. We want to give the public as much time as possible to consider it.
There has actually been quite a bit of backlash, as many accuse the GOP of using the referendum to increase their 2012 voter turnout. Businesses are speaking out against the proposed amendment as well:
“In so many ways, this constitutional amendment is bad for Minnesota employers and a distraction from the real priority for the state: growing the economy,” said Charlie Zelle, CEO of Jefferson Bus Lines and chair of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Instead, we need to move Minnesota forward by pursuing policies that are good for business, good for all Minnesota families and will make our state stronger and more competitive.”
Republicans have insisted on no tax increases, attempting to close the $5 billion shortfall with spending cuts alone. They have been flying around the state this week to explain their budget strategy rather than actually working to negotiate their plan. There’s no word on how a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage will address the very urgent budget concerns facing the state.