On Tuesday, Minnesotans will vote on a referendum that seeks to define marriage, in the state constitution, as being between a man and a woman. Recent polls suggest the amendment might not pass — which is surprising, considering the initiative’s origins.
Last week, scandal-ridden former Republican strategist Michael Brodkorb revealed that party insiders championed the amendment in hopes of drawing more socially conservative voters to the polls. Specifically, Brodkorb said, Republicans were hoping to narrow the ever-widening gap between popular U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and her challenger, Kurt Bills.
Forcing a hot-button social issue to the forefront of an election is nothing new. George W. Bush’s firm stance against same-sex marriage was wildly successful in courting evangelical voters in 2000 and 2004, and 32 states have faced (and passed) similar marriage-limiting amendments in the last few elections. However, it’s not the early aughts anymore, and Minnesota is no ordinary electorate.
In fact, we’re a wholly unpredictable stock. Don’t forget, Minnesota was the source of 10 of Walter Mondale’s dismal 13 electoral votes in 1984. In recent years, we voted Governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Senator Al “Stuart Smalley” Franken into office. Our electoral track record may look erratic to the naked eye but in reality, Minnesota is just fiercely independent. And when it comes to this particular amendment, free-thinking Minnesotans have been given a plethora of reasons to “Vote No.”
Large corporations like General Mills and Thompson Reuters have publically voiced opposition to the referendum, stating that it could affect their ability to recruit corporate talent to the state. Minnesota United For All Families, the official campaign opposing the amendment, has released commercials that appeal to the logical and ethical voter, as well as the emotional voter. The campaign’s “Another Catholic Voting No” signs have served as an effective reminder that social justice can trump doctrine, even among the most devout.
And in a truly Minnesota spin, the “Vote No” appeals of Brad Pitt, Madonna and even President Obama have been easily eclipsed by Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who has written a series of provocative, viral blog posts detailing his reasons for opposing the amendment. (This is exceptionally appropriate when you consider that the amendment is on the ballot because Republican insiders dropped back ten yards and punted.)
One of the best things about Minnesota is that we do things our own way — and this amendment presents a clear opportunity to do just that. To vote no is to follow our state’s infamous path of shirking the norm. To vote no is to offer a better and brighter future for everyone who is lucky enough to call Minnesota home.