The fight over a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota could cost up to $10 million before voters go to the ballot in November 2012. And while the measure only seeks to define civil marriage as “a union of one man and one woman,” proponents of the amendment have begun waging a campaign that blurs the line between civil and religious unions.
Even though marriage equality bills have never tried to dictate what any religion can believe or practice when it comes to sanctifying religious marriage, the Minnesota coalition, Minnesota for Marriage, and other so-called “traditional groups” are defining their campaign in religious terms. For instance, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is encouraging Facebook fans to “support marriage as God intended it to be,” while Minnesota Family Council (MFC) President John Helmberger has injected God into his rhetoric, predicting success if “people of faith [rise] up, speak, and participate in the campaign”:
Even though this campaign promises to be a great struggle, we are very confident of victory – if we receive your help and that of thousands of other Minnesotans who believe in God’s design for marriage. With your support, we will help the voters of our state see the timeless institution of one man-one woman marriage asthe foundation on which our society is built and the best environment for producing and raising children.
MFC is also organizing pastors, recruiting “Church Captains,” training people of faith through the “Minnesota Worldview Leadership Project,” and featuring various NOM leaders and religious right figures like Chuck Colson and Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family. (Given that NOM spent $709,000 in 2010′s Minnesota gubernatorial campaign alone, their contributions to this fight cannot be underestimated.) Ralph Reed’s group, the Minnesota Faith and Freedom Coalition, will hold a “strategy session” in October in support of the amendment with former gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer and Michele Bachmann as a “Friend of the Family” award winner. Reed, a leading figure in the Jack Abramoff scandal, founded the Coalition specifically to “re-energize” the religious right.
But civil same-sex marriage — which is already outlawed in the state — poses no actual threat to religious freedom, which is preserved in the six states that allow for marriage equality. In May, 55 percent of Minnesotans opposed the amendment, but 15 months and $10 million could certainly change their minds.