Friday, June 03, 2011

MN: needless state constitutional battle over gay marriage slammed by Outfront

There is another battle over a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, in Minnesota, where I lived 1997-2003.  The group Outfront Minnesota has a useful listing of the “three myths” about the situation, here.

 The article mentions a curious case back from 1971 about a discrimination case at a university library (Baker), that at the time had attracted a lot of attention.

Marriage is already limited to one man and one woman in Minnesota by state statute. The situation, on the surface, reminds one of Marshall-Newman in Virginia. 

The social climate in Minnesota, however, is, in practice, quite a bit more liberal than in many other states (such as VA) where anti-marriage amendments have been proposed (outside of California and Prop 8, of course). Billboard ads from the gay community appear in downtown Minneapolis and in some other parts of the city.   A few of the clubs (The Gay Nineties and the Saloon) are known nation-wide.  Pride flags also appear in June, and the Loring Park weekend the last weekend of June is one of the largest in the nation. (I remember that in 2002 some people had to be treated for heat exhaustion as the temperature rose to 102 – it does get very hot there in the summer; this is the Midwest, after all.)   Major employers are particularly vocal about diversity programs.  

Indeed, locals tell me that conservative GOP delegate Michelle Bachmann, generally viewed as an innocent part of the tea party, ties to the Christian Right and holds anti-gay views.  (Bachmann supposedly won her seat through gerrymandering, a topic of a recent indie film.) There are some Bible thumpers there, who tend to stand out in the otherwise blue climate.  The think tank "Center for the American Experiment" generally tends toward libertarianism (it has had John Stossel and some Cato members as a guest speakers) but Katherine Kersten has written, in a 2000 anthology, an essay about "Textbooks Push the Needs of ‘Self’ Over Marriage."  

As for the divide within the right over social values, I note this also.  Around the time of Y2K, the Libertarian Party of Minnesota had been effective, appearing at Pride, putting me on television, and running several candidates (including one graduating college student) for public office.

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