There are many falsehoods in today's latest loony epistle from conservative school marm Katherine Kersten, not least of which is the notion that enemies of gay marriage are the ones who need to fear intimidation--as if gays were trying to whip the state into a frenzy to vote against the validity of heterosexual relationships.
But there is a particularly heinous act of obscuration that she commits when trying to explain why so-called "Defense of Marriage" amendments have passed in so many states where the citizens actually oppose banning gay marriage.
What is happening is that polls are telling the truth that legislators are hiding, and a lot of voters are getting fooled at the ballot box.
Which means the ban on gay marriage could pass here even though more than 50% of voters in Minnesota are actually against banning gay marriage.
Why do polls consistently fail to predict voters' behavior? There are several reasons. First, many polls use misleading language. They ask people if they want to "ban" same-sex marriage instead of using the amendment language that voters will actually encounter in the polling booth. (In our state, that language is: "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.")You'll notice that the language in the amendment can easily be misinterpreted. You could be voting to ban polygamous relationships as seen on the popular TV show Sister Wives. Or perhaps you don't realize all the power of the sentence is in "only" and you think it's a vote to affirm that the state should recognize your own longstanding marriage, especially when it comes to important issues like tax breaks.
So when a newspaper like the Star Tribune runs a poll asking readers if they approve of banning same-sex marriage, they are not obscuring the truth from their readers, they are revealing the truth that GOP legislators purposely tried to hide with misleading ballot language: this amendment has nothing to do with heterosexual marriage and everything to do with banning gay marriage.