Listen: Opponents of same-sex marriage ban rally at Capitol

MPR’s Laura McCallum reports that the Minnesota State House passed a measure by 88-44 that would put a constitutional amendment question on the ballot in November 2004. It goes next to a Senate committee for vote, where it may be defeated.

Earlier in week, thousands of supporters of a same-sex marriage ban swarmed the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to put the issue before voters. Later in week, a similar number of opponents showed up to urge just the opposite.


text | pdf |

CROWD: (CHANTING) [INAUDIBLE] just got to go. Hey, hey!

LAURA MCCALLUM: About 3,000 people gathered in front of the Capitol to voice their opposition to the bill that passed the House.

CROWD: (CHANTING) Separate church and state! Separate church and state!

LAURA MCCALLUM: The bill would ask voters to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union only between a man and a woman. Explorer Ann Bancroft told the crowd that the measure would write discrimination into the state constitution.

ANN BANCROFT: Whatever your views are on same-sex marriage, using the constitution to permanently treat one group of people differently to discriminate in a sense is just plain wrong.

LAURA MCCALLUM: Bancroft says she and her partner don't receive many of the benefits available to opposite-sex married couples. That's why [? Kathy ?] [? Tenbroek ?] came to the capitol, along with her sister and her two nieces. [? Tenbroek ?] says she and her partner want the legal protections of marriage.

[? KATHY TENBROEK: ?] We had a wedding three years ago, actually. Of course, it's not officially recognized by the state, but in our hearts we're married. And in the hearts of our family and friends we are married as well. And someday we hope to be legally married.

LAURA MCCALLUM: One speaker told the crowd that same-sex marriage is inevitable, but it's not legal in Minnesota now. And some lawmakers say they're reluctant to amend the state constitution when same-sex marriage is already prohibited by law. Supporters of the measure say they're concerned about legal challenges in Minnesota and they want voters to decide the issue rather than the courts. The bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Michele Bachmann of Stillwater, says she doesn't think defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman is discriminatory.

MICHELE BACHMANN: That's never been found to be in the history of man that marriage between mother and father is discrimination. That's been found to be, if anything, the best place to raise children and to grow a family.

LAURA MCCALLUM: Bachmann says recent polls show a majority of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, but she's not optimistic about her bill's chances in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The chair of the committee, DFLer Don Betzold of Fridley, has introduced a competing bill that he says addresses Bachmann's concerns. Betzold's bill would ask voters to amend the state constitution to state that only the legislature has the power to define marriage, not the courts. Betzold says if supporters are truly concerned about activist judges, his bill should be sufficient.

DON BETZOLD: Senator Bachmann is saying that it's all about judicial activism. It is not about gay rights. And that's what she's saying. But the undercurrent, the secondary argument is entirely about gay rights. I do get emails talking about I'm sick and tired of judicial activists and they go on to bash gays.

LAURA MCCALLUM: Bachmann says Betzold's bill doesn't allow voters to decide the definition of marriage. She says even if Betzold's committee kills her bill, the issue isn't over for the session.

MICHELE BACHMANN: This debate will continue on until the gavel falls on May 17. That's really our ticking time bomb is May 17.

LAURA MCCALLUM: Bachmann hasn't said how she might try to get her bill to the floor after the committee deadline, but controversial bills have been revived after committee deadlines in the past. One way might be to try to amend it to another constitutional amendment bill. Many legislators say Bachmann's proposal will also be a campaign issue this fall. DFLers Karen Clark and Scott Dibble, the two openly gay members of the legislature, told the rally that opponents of the ban should take their views to the polls. Clark pointed out that all 134 house seats are on the ballot in November.

KAREN CLARK: Our lives are at stake, and those legislators need to know. They need to know your names, your faces, and that you vote, and that you'll help them drop literature and that you'll contribute to their campaigns. And that in some cases, you won't do any of that because they're not with you.

LAURA MCCALLUM: Clark says some House members were scared of the political fallout, and they voted for the constitutional amendment. 78 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted for the bill in the House. Supporters say they think they could get Democrats to vote for it in the Senate as well if they can get the bill to the floor. At the Capitol, I'm Laura McCallum, Minnesota Public Radio.

This Story Appears in the Following Collections

Views and opinions expressed in the content do not represent the opinions of APMG. APMG is not responsible for objectionable content and language represented on the site. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report a piece of content. Thank you.

Transcriptions provided are machine generated, and while APMG makes the best effort for accuracy, mistakes will happen. Please excuse these errors and use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report an error. Thank you.

< path d="M23.5-64c0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.3-0.1 0.4 -0.2 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.4-0.1 0.5-0.1 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.1-0.3 0.3-0.5 0.1-0.1 0.3 0 0.4-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.3-0.3 0.4-0.5 0-0.1 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1-0.3 0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.3 0-0.2 0-0.4-0.1-0.5 -0.4-0.7-1.2-0.9-2-0.8 -0.2 0-0.3 0.1-0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.1-0.1 0.2-0.3 0.2 -0.1 0-0.2 0.1-0.2 0.2C23.5-64 23.5-64.1 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64"/>