As couples in Minnesota and Rhode Island celebrated their new freedom to marry, the National Organization for Marriage released a bitter statement vowing revenge on those who backed equality. Their claim, however, that virtually all of the legislators who enacted marriage equality in those states had been dishonest with their constituents is demonstrably false.
Virtually no politician in Minnesota or Rhode Island ran on a platform that openly pledged that he or she would redefine marriage if elected to office. Yet, when given the opportunity, they did so. NOM has pledged to spend up to $500,000 in Minnesota and $100,000 in Rhode Island informing voters about the issues.
While it is true that supporters of marriage equality do not view providing equal access as “redefining marriage,” it is not true that this came as some sort of massive surprise following a stealth campaign.
In Rhode Island, where polls showed 60 percent popular support for marriage equality, many candidates were elected in large part because of their commitment to the effort. Fight Back RI, a political action committee specifically dedicated to electing pro-LGBT candidates, and Marriage Equality RI successfully helped nine pro-equality candidates win contested primaries in September 2012. WPRI television noted that these primary wins were a “shot across the bow” that showed other incumbents that their opposition to marriage equality could cost them re-election next time. Dozens of pro-marriage equality endorsees won in November — many of them highlighting their support on their campaign websites. As the issue was nothing new, several of those legislators had already sponsored marriage equality in a previous session.
In Minnesota, NOM also should not have been surprised. Last November, Minnesota voters considered — and rejected — a proposed marriage inequality constitutional amendment. Numerous legislative candidates and incumbents made clear not only their opposition to the measure but also their support of marriage equality well before Election Day and the Democrats regained majorities in the House and Senate in large part because of the Republican majorities’ push for the amendment.
Not only that, the NOM-funded Minnesota for Marriage, in pushing the unsuccessful amendment, explicitly warned voters that unless they backed the measure, this would happen. In their first ad, in October 2012, an anti-equality activist said, “Who should decide the definition of marriage? We think it should be the people, not judges or politicians.” Noting that supporters of marriage equality had a pending court case, she warned, “Some powerful legislators want to do the same thing.”
Watch the spot:
Polling has shown majority support in Minnesota as well.