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How Minnesota Conservatives Are Manipulating Marriage Equality For Political Purposes

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"How Minnesota Conservatives Are Manipulating Marriage Equality For Political Purposes"

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John Helmberger speaking to marriage equality opponents in November.

John Helmberger speaking to marriage equality opponents in November.

CREDIT: Carolina Yang, Minnesota Public Radio

Last week, the National Organization for Marriage pledged money to vengeance campaigns in Rhode Island and Minnesota against lawmakers who supported marriage equality. The retaliation effort on the ground in Minnesota, however — the so-called “Marriage Majority Initiative” — takes a slightly different rhetorical tactic in terms of its efforts to elect lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage. Here’s how John Helmberger, head of the Minnesota Family Council and its Minnesota for Marriage, described the campaign:

HELMBERGER: The majority of Minnesotans support marriage between one man and one woman, and they deserve a majority of representatives in their government who do as well. The Marriage Majority Initiative will serve as a resource to Minnesotans who want to see a pro-Marriage majority restored in the Minnesota House.

Minnesotans around the state have been asking “what’s next?” after a group of legislators forced same-sex “marriage” on the state. The Marriage Majority Initiative will help them answer that question by restoring a pro-Marriage majority in their state government. We are blessed to live in a country where The People can choose their representation. And, when their chosen representation fails them, the People have the opportunity to choose new leaders.

Helmberger is wrong, actually, because polling before the legislature acted showed that a majority of Minnesotans supported marriage equality, not to mention that a majority of voters defeated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in November.

But there’s something else telling about Helmberger’s plan: it doesn’t include any promises about the future of the marriage law. He wants to elect a “pro-Marriage majority,” but he doesn’t say anything about overturning this year’s advances. Indeed, it would be both unlikely to succeed — it already failed once — and unpopular if conservatives attempted to mount any effort to take marriage equality away from same-sex couples, as California did in 2008 with Proposition 8. The marriage fight is over in Minnesota, but conservatives are hoping to use the issue simply to elect sympathetic lawmakers.

If the Minnesota Family Council truly intends to overturn marriage equality, it should say so. Otherwise, the group is misleading voters who may oppose same-sex marriage by suggesting that’s the issue they’re voting for when in reality, there’s no intention of challenging the marriage law whatsoever.

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