Constitutional ban on gay marriage hits the fast track

Unemployment? Foreclosures? Massive budget deficit? Take a number.

Unemployment? Foreclosures? Massive budget deficit? Take a number.

Remember how Republicans kept telling us this election was supposed to be all about jobs, jobs, tax breaks and more jobs? It appears that what really happened is that the crappy economy gave conservative Christians cover from having to talk too much about over-sharing their particular world view with everyone else.

Now, with the GOP firmly in control of the Legislature, the Minnesota Family Council says it's going to push for a 2012 statewide referendum seeking a constitutional ban on gay marriage. And it knows it's got the numbers on its side.


Conservatives have tried three times to get the referendum on the ballot in recent years, but failed in the face of a solid liberal majority in the state House and Senate.

And it doesn't matter whether Democrat Mark Dayton, a gay rights supporter, wins the governor's race or not -- the governor has no control over whether ballot measures go before the public.

Floundering economy or no, the gay marriage issue flared up over the summer when Target Corp. was blasted by its own shareholders, and gay rights supporters, for a major donation to a group running ads for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Target tried to gloss over the outrage by insisting that it was only supporting Emmer, who opposes gay rights, because the company supported his economic policies.

The National Organization for Marriage, and anti-gay rights group, ran TV ads for Emmer. Archbishop John Nienstedt mailed out an anti-gay marriage DVD just before Election Day. And conservative Christian groups like the Minnesota Family Council campaigned hard to urge their supporters to get to the polls on Election Day. That was a big deposit in the Republican favor bank, and now they're looking for some payback.

"The statement I'll make is that there's a keen interest by a majority of the members of both chambers to define marriage, and to allow the public to do so," Maple Grove Republican Sen. Warren Limmer told the Strib.

Would Minnesotans ban gay marriage if given the chance? That's not clear. The Humphrey Institute's Smart Politics blog reported last year that four out of six statewide polls between 2003 and 2006 found a plurality or majority opposing a ban.

Meanwhile, the Republicans will get to those pesky unemployment numbers just as soon as their schedule allows.