Supporters of gay marriage in Minnesota
cheered on November 6 when a proposed amendment to ban it was
A look back at how Minnesota broke a
winning streak for opponents of marriage equality is carefully retold
in a Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) special report titled EIGHTEEN
MONTHS TO HISTORY: How the Minnesota marriage amendment was defeated
– money, passion, allies.
The report takes us back to 2010, when
Republicans regained control of the Legislature and vowed to shore up
the state's law denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry
with a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual
Republicans approved the amendment last
May, sending it to voters for their approval.
“We launched Minnesotans United for
All Families that night,” said Monica Meyer, the executive director
of OutFront Minnesota, the state's largest gay rights advocate.
Also in from the start was Ann
Kaner-Roth of Project 515.
We wanted to take action so “people
could see that not all hope was lost,” Meyer explained.
Minnesotans United raised more than $12
million, dwarfing the efforts of Minnesota for Marriage, the campaign
supporting passage of the amendment, which raised less than half of
In June, John Helmberger, chairman of
Minnesota for Marriage, dismissed the financial disparity, saying
money wasn't an issue because “We don't have to change a lot of
minds, because the majority of people are with us already.”
Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for
Minnesotans United, credited a conversation strategy for its win.
“In the past, our side of the fight
has focused on rights and equality and that this is discrimination,”
said Alison Froehle, who trained volunteers on implementing the
conversations. “But that frame of mind does not move voters. So
what we're doing on this campaign is, we're having conversations from
the heart. We're taking it from an abstract frame of mind and into
the personal, reminding people that this is going to hurt real
Carlbom added that the strategy worked
because it was “not just Minnesotans talking to Minnesotans. It's
Lutherans talking to Lutheran, Catholic talking to Catholic.”
Many media outlets have focused on the
defeat of the amendment, leaving out its implications. While
supporters of the ban were motivated by a desire to block courts and
lawmakers from extending marriage to gay couples, the 18-month
campaign might have created the groundswell of support needed to do
just that. Next year's legislative session will see new leadership
after voters returned control of both chambers of the Legislature to
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