Will Minnesota Voters Be on the Right Side of History?

Minnesota residents will get a chance to vote on the civil rights of their fellow gay and lesbian citizens next year. Minnesota lawmakers approved a ballot measure that will ask voters if they wish to change their state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The debate before the measure passed was emotional. Four Republican representatives, including John Kriesel of Cottage Grove, voted against the measure. Kriesel lost his legs in fighting in Iraq and gave an emotional speech about how he fought for everyone in this country to have equal rights—not for government to take them away.

Kriesel, his voice choked with emotion, recalled a Minnesota soldier who died in Afghanistan earlier this year, Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, who was gay.

“He was gay. He was gay. How can I tell his family that Corporal Wilfahrt was good enough to fight and die for his country, but he’s not good enough to marry someone he loves. I can’t do that!”

He begged his fellow lawmakers to vote against the amendment and “stand up for freedom.”

He said one day he would be proud to tell his grandchildren that he was on the right side of history by voting against the measure. Recent polls are showing that acceptance of marriage equality for gays and lesbians is growing, with the majority now favoring it by a slim margin.

The author of the bill, Rep. Steve Gottwalt, claimed the bill isn’t “about hatred. It is not about discrimination or intolerance. This bill simply says the people get to decide whether they want this in the Constitution. What are we afraid of, why are we afraid of letting the people vote?”

Opponents of marriage equality however, like Jason Adkins, a spokesman for the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which represents Catholic bishops, said the bill simply starts a conversation.

“Minnesotans have been given the opportunity to have an important conversation about the future of marriage,” Adkins said.

According to the Baptist Press, though, instead of a conversation, anti-marriage equality groups “will focus on two themes that have proven successful in other states: 1) children need mother and fathers and 2) legalizing ‘gay marriage’ will have negative consequences on religious freedoms and impact what is taught in elementary schools.”

These “themes,” of course are not based in fact since studies show children of gay and lesbian parents thrive, and no one’s “religious freedoms” have been impacted in the states that do allow gays and lesbians full entry into marriage.

NOM and their cohorts, of course, have absolutely no interest in having a “conversation” about marriage equality, because when conversations—real conversations—happen, their conspiracy theories about LGBT people and the denial of religious freedom are proven wrong. If Minnesota voters have those kinds of conversations, perhaps the vote will reflect what the polling data is starting to show: majority support for marriage equality.