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June 3, 2011

Minnesota marriage ban heads to the 2012 ballot

St. Paul, Minn.--A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil union cleared the state legislature and is headed to the ballot, but Gov. Mark Dayton on May 25 expressed his displeasure with a symbolic veto.

“Although I do not have the power to prevent this divisive and destructive constitutional amendment from appearing on the Minnesota ballot in 2012, the legislature sent it to me in the form of a bill,” he wrote to Senate president Michelle Fischbach, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “Thus, symbolic as it may be, I am exercising my legal responsibility to either sign it or veto it.”

“Without question, I am vetoing it; and I urge Minnesotans to reject this mean-spirited, divisive, un-Minnesotan and un-American amendment,” he noted.

Dayton also pledged to campaign against the measure in the lead-up to next year’s elections.

Within two days of the amendment’s passage, almost a thousand people signed up to campaign against it on the website of Minnesotans United for All Families, the group organized to fight it.

The Minnesota House passed the measure 70-62 on May 21; it had already passed the state senate. A simple majority of voters in November 2012 can put it into the state constitution.

Similar amendments have passed in 29 states since anti-gays began a drive for them in 1998, including a 2004 measure in Ohio. The most famous one is California’s Proposition 8. Only once has any of them failed at the ballot box: Arizona in 2006. A pared-down version passed there two years later.

Marriage is already restricted to opposite-sex couples under Minnesota law. Proponents of the amendment say it is necessary to keep courts from redefining marriage, but it would also prevent the legislature from opening it to same-sex couples in the future.

Proponents have pledged to raise almost $5 million to get the amendment passed.

A May 13 poll found 55 percent of respondents opposed the amendment, while 39 percent favored it. With a year and a half until the election, however, the poll is very preliminary.

The amendment may make the gay magazine Advocate rethink Minneapolis’ position at the top of its list of the ten gayest cities in America. It was the second year of the list, and Minneapolis appeared on the list for the first time this year, right at the top.

The first year, the Advocate looked at the number of same-sex couples, marriage equality, gay bars and gay films on Netflix favorite lists; this year, they switched to examining the number of dating website profiles, gay elected officials, lesbian bars, pro-gay religious congregations and yellow page listings.

The Advocate determination made national news when The Daily Show interviewed activists in both Minneapolis and San Francisco; San Franciscans were predictably livid at losing their title. Should the constitutional amendment pass, however, neither city might win.

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