Thursday, 12 April 2012

Obama Intrudes Into Minnesota Marriage Battle

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President Obama, who has declared that his views on marriage are “evolving,” has come out in opposition to Minnesota’s proposed state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman. The voter initiative, passed by the state legislature in May 2011 and set for the November ballot, reads: “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.”

As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, on April 9 Kristin Sosanie, the communications director for Obama’s Minnesota presidential campaign, released a statement saying that “while the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples. That’s what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do — it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples.”

The statement comes less than a month after a spokesperson for Obama’s North Carolina campaign made precisely the same statement in opposition to that state’s proposed marriage defense amendment, which voters will decide on May 8. Baptist Press News noted that unlike the proposed measure in North Carolina, Minnesota’s marriage amendment would not ban same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships. While the President has not officially come out in favor of legalizing homosexual marriage, he has expressed his support for same-sex civil unions, “and his opposition to the North Carolina proposal could have been interpreted simply as taking a stand for civil unions,” reported BP News. “But Obama’s opposition to the Minnesota amendment means he is opposing an amendment that prohibits that which he supposedly opposes — gay ‘marriage.’ ”

Obama’s confusing signals on the issue are well-documented. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he declared his opposition to same-sex marriage even while he came out against California’s Proposition 8, the voter-passed constitutional amendment which protects traditional marriage in that state.

But in the past year the President has made it clear that he has caved in to the homosexual lobby and will make legalizing same-sex marriage a key issue in his re-election campaign. That campaign began in earnest in February 2011, when, as reported by The New American, Obama ordered the Justice Department “to stop defending the constitutionality of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which essentially defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and protects states from being required to recognize same-sex partnerships as marriage.”

Several months later, as the featured speaker at a dinner thrown by the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s premier homosexual activist groups, Obama told high-level “gay rights” lobbyists and their wealthy benefactors that “there are those who don’t want to just stand in our way, but want to turn the clock back; who want to return to the days when gay people couldn’t serve their country openly; who reject the progress that we’ve made; who, as we speak, are looking to enshrine discrimination into state laws and constitutions — efforts that we’ve got to work hard to oppose, because that’s not what America should be about.”

Obama’s recent public opposition to two of the most high-profile marriage amendment efforts is calculated to send a signal of support to what the President considers a significant voter bloc. Opponents of the Minnesota marriage amendment were quick to respond to the President’s token with due appreciation. “It was a pleasant surprise to me,” Democratic State Senator Scott Dibble, who is openly homosexual, told “It builds on statements he’s made in the past — his opposition to Proposition Eight in California, to a similar amendment in North Carolina, and his decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act.”

Similarly, openly lesbian Democratic State Representative Susan Allen conveyed her gratitude in a statement: “We thank President Obama for lending his voice to this discussion, and hope it sparks a conversation that Minnesotans will be having in their communities in the months leading up to Election Day about what marriage, family, and freedom really mean to each of us.”

By contrast, Republican State Representative Steve Gottwalt, a supporters of the marriage amendment, told the Star Tribune that he was “disappointed” with Obama’s intrusion into the state’s affairs. “Frankly, I think it’s unfortunate that the President of the United States is getting involved in a state issue, but that’s certainly his right,” he said.

Gottwalt emphasized that the notion the proposed amendment is an assault against “gay” rights is absurd. “The idea that this is an attack on anyone is just incorrect,” he said. “It’s called the marriage amendment. What this really is about is marriage, and Minnesotans ought to have the right to say what that means to them.”

Chuck Darrell, communications director for pro-family group Minnesota for Marriage, said that in the end what Obama has to say on the issue is largely irrelevant. “President Obama’s opinion won’t make any difference,” he told The New American. “The people of Minnesota have been very clear …. they don’t appreciate being told by politicians how to vote on the core institution of society — marriage as between one man and one woman.”

Darrell noted that state polls have shown 60 percent of Minnesota voters support the idea of voting on the proposed marriage amendment. “The question is not whether a definition of marriage will be written into the Minnesota Constitution,” he said. “The question is whether it will be written by the people or the courts.”

He emphasized that the charge the amendment would deny rights to same-sex partners is inaccurate. “The amendment makes no change in rights and benefits for gays and lesbians, nor does it limit the legislature’s ability to provide future benefits if those become needed,” he said. “Gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for all society.”

Tom Prichard of the Minnesota Family Council, which has been at the forefront of the battle to protect marriage for the past several years, said that it is important for Minnesotans to make their own decision on the definition of marriage “just like voters have done in 31 other states.” He noted that the institution of marriage “predates government and has served as the foundation of society for thousands of years. If marriage is to be redefined, it should only be society, speaking through the electorate, who makes this decision — not judges or legislators.”

Photo: Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul

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