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Minnesota’s marriage amendment battle: Power of ‘messaging’ may be the key

King & King Illustration
Illustration by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
The marriage scene from the children's book 'King & King'

On Oct. 7, 2008, one month before California voters were to decide whether to amend that state’s constitution to strip gays and lesbians of the right to marry, opponents of same-sex marriage aired a game-changing television ad.

“Mommy, Mommy, guess what I learned in school today?” a pig-tailed girl announces, rushing to show her mother a pink picture book. “I learned how a prince can marry a prince and I can marry a princess!”

This is the ad that is believed to have swung the California amendment battle.

If Proposition 8 did not pass, narrators cut in, schoolchildren would be taught about gay marriage and parents would have no right to object: “Think it can’t happen here? It already has.”

Gay rights supporters first froze and then, with less than two weeks to go, responded with fact-based ads that utterly failed to assuage voters’ fears or strike emotional chords.

In terms of messaging, the princess ad, as it has since become known, is a direct descendant of Anita Bryant’s Save Our Children campaign, whose late 1970s TV and print ads warned that gay-rights laws here and elsewhere would enable teachers to have sex with students and foster child prostitution.

The message’s endurance is partly explained by its effectiveness. In California, the princess ad aired over and over, part of a saturation campaign that is credited with handing Yes on 8 a narrow upset victory. Of the 13.7 million votes cast, 52 percent favored the amendment opposing gay marriage.

Powerful, pivotal ad

According to an exhaustive analysis later performed by LGBT-rights strategist David Fleischer, 500,000 of the 600,000 deciding voters were prepared to vote against the initiative until Yes on 8’s ads began airing.

The picture book the ad’s princess protagonist brought home from school was “King & King,” a Dutch fairy tale about a crabby queen who wants to hang up her crown but can’t persuade her son to marry. She lines up princess after princess, but it’s not until one shows up with her brother in tow that a royal wedding is in the cards.

In the 12 years since its publication, the book has gained more notoriety at the hands of same-sex marriage opponents than young readers, appearing in ads in other states where marriage rights are the subject of legal, legislative or election challenges.

Indeed, “King & King” and the conservative meme that has grown up around it has already hit the airwaves in Minnesota in a series of “Marriage Minute” videos being circulated by Minnesota for Marriage, the umbrella organization campaigning for the one-man, one-woman marriage amendment here.

“Children at a very young age, as early as kindergarten, will be taught in school that marriage is between any two adults, no matter what they have been taught at home, in church or in their ethnic traditions,” MOM spokeswoman Kalley Yanta explains in one of the group’s spots as the book’s cover is displayed. “Under that kind of law, those who believe otherwise will be treated as racists and bigots.”

In remarks published by the LGBT news site The Colu.mn, the former KSTP anchor took the message a step further.

“If marriage between homosexuals is legalized, what would some of the consequences be?” she asked rhetorically. “Parents who want to opt their kids out of the public school on the day that they’re teaching about homosexual relationships how it should be OK and accepted, and the parents are charged with discrimination and are hauled away sometimes in handcuffs. … We just can’t allow this to happen.”

“King & King” has been the subject of several battles between parents and school districts, but no dispute has ended in the shackling of anyone, and there is no law that allows individuals to be “charged” with having bigoted or religious views. And yet, in the 29 states where gay marriage bans have gone to voters, the impressions created by the princess ad and others like it have proven incredibly difficult for same-sex marriage proponents to combat.

Competing 16-month messages

Still, expect Minnesota’s pro- and anti-amendment campaigns to draw plenty of attention. Unlike other states where gay-rights supporters have struggled to counter a last-minute advertising barrage, amendment opponents here will have 16 months to get their own message out, as well as apply lessons learned from other states.

The coalitions working on both sides of the issue are tight-lipped about their strategies, but area experts on political messages have ventured some predictions.

Ed Schiappaumn.eduEd Schiappa

Ed Schiappa is chair of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota and author of a forthcoming paper examining the arguments used in the legal and public spheres in California.

The more closely an issue is tied to a prospective voter’s identity, the harder it is to change their perception of it, he said. By now, same-sex marriage advocates know what doesn’t work and opponents know what does.

At least internally, each side has probably acknowledged that there are a certain number of voters on either side who will not be swayed. Because 2012 is a presidential election year, those voters are more likely to turn out but not guaranteed.

And because the early building of grass-roots foundations is key, each is likely paying particular attention to voters in churches and outstate communities where social networks are vitally important to building a base.

Bill Hillsmansimonandschuster.netBill Hillsman

Minnesota for Marriage’s strategy of creating online videos that can be easily passed around is likely to be particularly effective here, said political strategist Bill Hillsman, whose clever TV ads are credited with wins by seeming dark horses such as Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura. 

“Particularly on the side not in favor [of same-sex marriage], they will do it earlier because the more conservative factors of the state tend to get organized earlier and better and to consolidate support earlier and better,” he said. “The more liberal groups tend to fall short because they assume support is going to be there when they need it.”

This is doubly true when the experience of other states suggests a high-buck barrage of ads can be expected late in the campaign. “The lesson from that is there is no substitute for organizing in this,” he continued. “The more organized you are, the less you have to match the other side dollar for dollar.”

Targeting ‘the squishy middle’

When those dollars do start flowing, said Schiappa, “You go for the squishy middle.”

If you oppose gay marriage, that means two approaches: targeting people’s fears, as in the princess ad or another very effective 2009 ad that warned ominously of a “Gathering Storm,” and reaffirming the presumptions they already have.

In the latter, a violent storm sweeps over a group of people who decry their fears. “My freedom will be taken away,” one says. “I am part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can’t support same-sex marriage,” says another. Gay-rights advocates, a woman insists, “want to change the way I live.”

(“The Colbert Report” produced a hilarious, dead-on spoof.) 

Another widely analyzed ad has no narration at all, instead reinforcing presumed childhood lessons about family by showing a blond toddler playing happily with bride and groom dolls before the words “Marriage: It’s Simple” scroll onto the screen.

“That was an elegant, elegant ad, regardless of your politics,” Schiappa said. “It doesn’t say anything. It reinforces what you already know. And you know what a married person is by age 3 or 4.”

Hillsman concurred: “When Wellstone was up for election in ’96, he voted for [the Defense of Marriage Act] and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I grew up believing marriage was between a man and a woman.’”

Both add that by virtue of having less exposureto same-sex households, older Americans are more likely to hold this view. And exposure and time are by far the most effective ways to change it.

“Getting people to watch ‘It’s a Brad, Brad World’ ” — in which Bravo reality show star Brad Goreski and his longtime partner Gary Janetti, who are shown planning a commitment ceremony because they can’t marry — “actually advances gay marriage,” said Schiappa. “Because you see them and think, ‘Why don’t they have the same rights as a heterosexual couple has?’ ”

The question of gay marriage as a tangential plotline may be new, but Goreski and Janetti’s pain probably resonates with more viewers because the scores of gay TV characters that preceded them make their relationship seem more normal. Newsweek, he added, titled a story about this impact of “benign exposure” with “The ‘Will and Grace’ Effect.”

The messages with which Schiappa is familiar that have had the most resonance are some aired in New York, where gay marriage supporters filmed commercials encouraging people to urge their lawmakers to legalize it.

“Those ads were aimed at emotions,” he said, citing one, shot in warm colors, in which a woman talked of wanting the same things for both her daughters.

“Another New York example is a pair of women in their 60s who had been together 30-plus years who talked about wanting to finally get married,” Schiappa added. “They looked like your aunt. They weren’t scary.”

Hillsman agreed. “The things that tend to work are showing married gay couples and showing the normalcy of it,” he said. “People tend to fear it’s some kind of freak show, and to show the utter normalcy of it is very effective.”

Finally, to succeed, Minnesota’s amendment opponents “have to break the link between Christianity and opposition to gay marriage,” he said, which is why the aforementioned grass-roots organizing is most likely where this state’s campaign will be won and lost. 

“Neither side is interested in having to make their case to swing voters if they don’t have to,” Hillsman continued. “It’s much safer to drive turnout and depress turnout.”

In the end, both sides need to be exceptionally careful, in Hillsman’s opinion: “A misstep can be fatal in messaging.”

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Comments (55)

Messaging

Good piece, Beth – ammunition for both sides, I suppose.

It's hard not to note, however, that Proposition 8 has currently foundered on the shoals of the Constitution and the appellate courts. It may survive, but it seems equally likely that it may not. If the latter is the case, one of the inconvenient truths for DOMA defenders and those who'd like to put similar restrictions into the Minnesota Constitution may simply be that, regardless of the effectiveness of the ad campaigns of opponents of same-sex marriage, discrimination against a particular group without a demonstrably good reason (in the legal sense) will still be considered discrimination under the law.

A Challenge

I challenge MinnPost to make available an unredacted, unedited copy of the "Safe Schools Manual" that is used in classrooms, starting in grade 3, in the Saint Paul public school district.

http://outforequity.spps.org/safe_schools_manual.html

Then, let's have this discussion.

I have a copy, and will be happy to vouch for the authenticity of what is posted.

It's all well and good to discuss what happened in California, but I submit people in Minnesota are entitled to know the truth of what is happening in Minnesota today.

Human Dignity

May Minnesotans remember that this is an issue of human dignity. It is an issue of treating another like you would want to be treated. It is an issue of love. We all have the desire to find love and long for that love to be affirmed and supported by our families and friends. Let us be about living in grace and finding the goodness in others. As a couple who has been blessed with a 40 year marriage, we rejoiced as our 3 oldest children found love and got married. We want for our gay son Jacob what we cherish and hold dear.

With all due respect, Randi

I think most people want to find the goodness in others, but that really isn't what this issue is about.

We are complex creatures, a mixture of good and bad, rational and irrational. Dysfunctional behaviors do not preclude the likelyhood that a person has a considerable goodness within them, but that inherent good is not a valid argument that we must accept dysfunction as good, or desireable, or normal.

I'm sure your son is a great kid, and I wish the best for him. But I join with the majority of people on the planet that are not ready to cast aside science, human biology, common sense *or* morality to accomodate his, or your desire for approval of something that does not recommend itself for approval.

Finally, I certainly do not blame you, or your allies for pushing for your desires (except where it impinges upon the lives of children), but it is time to put it to rest. This vote makes that happen.

procreation

If marriage is just about procreation, then millions of people would be disqualified. So marriage isn't about human biology or science, is it?

You often make reference to "common sense", but where does that apply here? In my mind, marriage between any two people provides all necessary "common sense".

So it comes down to morality. My sense of morality provides for any two loving, committed people to form a legal bond to honor and codify that commitment. Yours doesn't. There is the real rub.

The logical fallacy of the False Dilemma

"Not every couple that gets married has children, so procreation cannot warrant an argument based upon human biology or science".

Too easy. Next!

The exception

does not make a rule.

Mr. Cygan wrote:

"marriage between any two people provides all necessary "common sense"."

Male 1 marries Female 1.
Male 1 decides to Marry Female 2.
Female 1 decides to marry Female 3.
Male 1 also decides to marry Female 3.
Female 3 decides to marry the daughter of Male 1 and Female 1.

Is that what you consider to be "common sense", Mr. Cygan?

Mr. Cygan wrote:

"My sense of morality provides for any two loving, committed people to form a legal bond to honor and codify that commitment."

Does your "sense of morality", Mr. Cygan, argue for the repeal of Chapter 517 of the Minnesota Statutes, specifically, do you argue for the repeal of MN Stat. 517.02 and 517.03?

I invite any same sex marriage supporter, Beth Hawkins included, to answer this question.

Why

Why did you choose these particular sections? Neither needs to be repealed, and of the two, only 517.03 should be amended. Unless you're suggesting that the slippery slope argument applies. That is, are you indicating that if we allow people of the same sex to get married, kids and relatives must inevitably end up getting married?

To alleviate your fears, let me assure you that slippery slopes are rarely anything more than imaginary. Looking specifically at this one, you must look at the legal reasons for the prohibition of marriages that involve children and close relatives.

The reason children should not (and cannot legally) get married is because of the fact that marriage is a contract. Children cannot enter into a contract because they cannot give legal consent.

The reason that relatives should not get married is because children resulting from a union of close relatives are at higher risk of congenital birth defects and diseases.

Neither of these reasons apply to a gay couple.

Arguments.

Mr. Cygan made the argument that:

1. "marriage between any two people provides all necessary "common sense"."
2. "[His] sense of morality provides for any two loving, committed people to form a legal bond to honor and codify that commitment."

I gave two examples where his arguments would lead.

"Neither of these reasons apply to a gay couple."

That's wasn't the point of his stated arguments. He or any supporter of "same sex marriage" needs to answer the questions I raised.

Your response was generic

Individually, all of the situations you provided in response to Mr. Cygan's comment were perfectly fine, unless your scheme requires the marriage to be between all of those people at once--but then, that doesn't apply to Mr. Cygan's comment (TWO loving, COMMITTED people), does it?

You're arguing the slippery slope. No one with common sense will follow your logic into the pit you're trying to bait them into. If you provide some serious questions, then maybe someone will take you seriously and seriously answer them.

In the meanwhile, I took your comment to be general and pointed out that providing examples of marriages that violate consent or genetic health issues has nothing to do with the gay marriage issue.

your definition of "dysfunction" doesn't make sense

Why do you get to define "dysfunctional", and why define it the way you do? To me, someone is "dysfunctional" if they operate in a way that causes problems for themselves or others. The only problems for homosexuals are the ones caused by the "family values" crowd - otherwise they would live their lives as they wished and not cause harm to anyone.

Moreover, you use the same line every time you talk about this. But upon examination, none of it stands up. "Science" and "human biology" have nothing to say about the matter. Yes - it takes a man and a woman to make a kid. Duh. So what? Why does that matter? Science makes no statement about how we should treat people who are attracted to others of their same sex. Further, since you're an on-the-record science denier, science is not your mantle to claim anyways.

"Common sense" is simply not an argument. And "morality" in this case is defined by your religion, which we don't all share. It certainly doesn't come from any rational or ethical argument I've seen presented.

So what do you really have here Tom? It seems like nothing other than a weird obsession with other peoples' sexual predilections.

Logic and facts. A good basis for any argument

dys·func·tion also dis·func·tion (ds-fngkshn)
n.
Abnormal or impaired functioning, especially of a bodily system or social group.

If homosexuality was normal, it wouldn't result in the extinction of the species; it wouldn't be relegated to a miniscule percentage of the population and it wouldn't cause physical damage when practised.

We could get into the stastics that bear out the "problems", emotional and physical that accompany homosexuality, but that is not the argument I'm bringing (although I'd be happy to accomodate one).

My definition of morality is primarily based upon natural law and the history of civil society, but if I'm ever stumped, I ask myself "Is this something I'd want my kids to know?" I don't need religion to teach me the most basic tenants of right and wrong.

Finally, you've completely destroyed your own argument: "Yes - it takes a man and a woman to make a kid. Duh. So what? Why does that matter?"

With all due respect, that might serve as a gold plated example of failed logic.

Next!

And yet you're not using any

"If homosexuality was normal, it wouldn't result in the extinction of the species"

Is this something you're concerned about? Are we running out of people and nobody told me? By that definition, we should be treating as dysfunctional everyone that doesn't want to bear children for any reason, or can't for any reason. Oh, and "miniscule percentage of the population"? EVERYONE has some characteristic that only applies to a "miniscule percentage of the population." Like leftys? There was a time when they were sent to right-handed reeducation camps.

There are no special "problems" that homosexuals face that aren't caused by those who want to treat them as psych cases. Ask them! Their problems come from YOU, not them.

"if I'm ever stumped, I ask myself "Is this something I'd want my kids to know?"

Well, let's all base our societal policy on what you'd tell your kids. There's a plan for success. Saying your sense of right and wrong is somehow internal is not an argument. Unless you can articulate an argument, you have nothing.

And you've yet to explain why the kid thing matters. Nobody else here thinks this is patently obvious so you're talking to yourself. I'm straight and I don't want kids. Where does this put me?

Ultimately, it's not clear what you're suggesting. If you're a remotely decent human being, you would do one of two things with homosexuals. You'd either treat them like everyone else or "fix" them somehow. And since there's a lot of evidence the latter doesn't work, and nor do they want it, it seems like the former is the only reasonable course of action.

I think...

that comment should just stand inspection all by itself, Jeff. There's nothing I could add that the thoughtful reader won't find condescending to their intelligence.

Oops, almost forgot.

On top of everything else wrong with your argument, ad hominem the gold standard of fail, Jeff. "Wierd obsessions" do not impinge on the validity of ones positions whether one has them or not.

Next!

It's not ad hominem, it's an observation.

You are demonstrably deeply interested with the sex lives of people who are not you, and by our upper-midwest standards that is indeed "weird".

Dirty little secret

However the vote over the marriage amendment goes, the dirty little secret in this effort (along with Voter ID and "right-to-work") is the precedent the GOP is bringing to Minnesota concerning legislation by amendment. Do you think it will stop with this election?

If any of these amendments succeed, I would expect future DFL-controlled legislatures to put repeals on the ballot. Then, I would expect that they might put new amendment proposals on the ballot. What's sauce for the goose...

Perhaps if all of these pointless amendments can be defeated this year, the unpleasant prospect of continuing to vote endlessly on the same amendment propositions and later repeal efforts can be averted.

Pointless?

Maintaining the foundation of western civilization -marriage - is not "pointless".

Pointless

1. It's pointless when what is excluded by the amendment is already disallowed under the law.

2. If marriage is the foundation of Western civilization, then it is under far greater threat from those people who are currently married.

Making it up as they go along.

Mr. Cygan wrote:

"It's pointless when what is excluded by the amendment is already disallowed under the law."

Tell that to the people in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, where lawyers in robs issued judicial edicts without regard for anything except their roles as philosopher kings.

The Marriage Amendment will prevent judicial fraud.

Saving marriage

Do you advocate repealing the no-fault divorce laws?

How about forcing "The Bachelor" off the air?

RB, you got me

I routinely keep my personal opinions out of comment threads on my stories, but you dangle too massive a temptation: I am unapologetically in favor of forcing "The Bachelor" off the air. Where do I sign?

Question for Miss Hawkins.

"Gay rights supporters first froze and then, with less than two weeks to go, responded with fact-based ads that utterly failed to assuage voters’ fears or strike emotional chords."

Are you inferring, Miss Hawkins, that a claim in the ad about Parker v. Hurley was *not* based upon fact?

“…what is happening in Minnesota today.”

What *appears* to be happening in Minnesota today, at least from what I’m reading in the comments, is that one group of people are conducting a campaign against another group of people whose sexual preferences the first group finds abhorrent. The object of the campaign is to prevent the second group of people from marrying.

What often seems to be forgotten in these exchanges is that marriage has *both* a religious and a civil basis. There are religions, obviously, that condemn homosexuality in any and every form, and would never endorse a homosexual union. There are other religions that either don’t care in the slightest, or that approve of any loving, committed relationship. What that says to me is that there doesn’t appear to be a sound theological basis for the prohibition being advanced as a constitutional amendment, since there’s no real consensus among religions in regard to the practice. Some hate it, some don’t care, some embrace it.

The societal interest in endorsing marriage as an institution is not to *create* children. Humans do that quite readily whether marriage takes place or not. The societal interest is in *raising* children, or, if you will, in *training* children to become useful and productive citizens of the society. That’s something that’s not at all gender-specific, nor does it require procreative ability. Procreation *can* have a role to play in that context, but it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all as a reason for the institution of marriage. If it were, marriage would have a long history of being forbidden unless and until a couple had, indeed, produced a child, and most of the societies of which I’m aware want couples to marry *before* the children begin to arrive, not after.

As others have pointed out, there are many, many childless marriages that are strictly heterosexual (a term that only goes back about a century). I don’t think the advocates of a Constitutional amendment that bars same-sex marriage help their cause by insisting that procreation is the fundamental basis for marriage unless they’re prepared to write off all those childless couples. That position also implies, in case it hasn’t occurred to people of that viewpoint, that birth control in any form is similarly tainted, and shouldn’t be used if a couple is married. Devout Catholics might nod their heads in approval, but all the statistics I’ve seen suggest that a sizable majority of women of every reproductive age and theological orientation, including Catholics, make regular use of birth control, a fact which basically renders the “procreation is the reason for marriage” argument facile, at best, and simply wrong at worst.

Morality is always socially defined, and historically, societies have devised some interesting value frameworks within which to operate, some of which would create this same sort of emotionally-charged reaction if they were still in place. Plenty of people convinced that same-sex marriage is an abomination don’t even flinch at the prospect of killing someone via capital punishment. I’m sorry I won’t be around to see how that combination is viewed by social historians and their societies a few centuries from now.

It’s an old joke, but it nonetheless seems relevant in the context of this particular argument: If marriage is the foundation of Western Civilization, which of Newt Gingrich’s three marriages is the one that we build the society on?

And, while I hate to bring a dose of reality into Mr. Krasnoff’s world, there’s at least a possibility that, even if the proposed Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution passes in November, it may well be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (you *know* it’s going to be challenged in court if it’s adopted). I’m not taking bets on that, since the current SCOTUS is a conservative one, but Supreme Court Justices stick pretty closely to precedent and established law, and if they should rule that prohibiting same-sex marriage is discriminatory on its face, and thus unconstitutional, then same-sex marriage would automatically be legal throughout the United States, including Minnesota.

If that seems far-fetched, keep in mind that the same SCOTUS ruled that prohibiting corporations from donating large sums of money to political candidates (money being defined as a form of “speech”) was discriminatory on its face, and thus unconstitutional. I think it was a terrible decision, but I don’t think it was “judicial fraud.”

“…what is happening in Minnesota today.”

Mr Schoch wrote:

"What *appears* to be happening in Minnesota today, at least from what I’m reading in the comments, is that one group of people are conducting a campaign against another group of people whose sexual preferences the first group finds abhorrent. The object of the campaign is to prevent the second group of people from marrying."

Hmm. Doesn't seem quite right.

"What *appears* to be happening in Minnesota today, at least from what I’m reading in the comments, is that one group of people are conducting a campaign against another group of people whose religious beliefs and adherence to fixed standards in civil society the first group finds abhorrent. The object of the campaign is to completely dismantle the standards of American civil society and prevent the second group of people from expressing and living by their Jewish or Christian beliefs."

There. Fixed.

Exaggerate much?

" . . . . completely dismantle the standards of American civil society"

Wow. Next thing you know we'll have dogs and cats living together . . .

Argumentum ad ridiculum

Is there a valid reason you can't provide a legitimate counterargument?

Because . . . .

it's next to impossible to argue logically with someone who continues to present hyperbole and opinion as if they are facts.

Drama

No religion will be forced to redefine their own sacraments and no individual citizen will have to view same-sex marriages as moral. Having equal access to and protection of the law is in now way an interference with your neighbor's individual conscience.

Wrong.

I refer you to Parker v. Hurley, 474 F. Supp. 2d 261 (D. Mass. 2007).

Wrong

Feel free to educate your own children. If you wish to teach them that the sky is pink because you dislike blue, that's up to you. Just don't be surprised when the courts tell you that you can't sue the school district because you relegated your ability to teach your own children to the state. In other words, your religious freedoms have not been affected by your inability to teach your own kids.

Wrong?

If parents are still compelled by law to pay school taxes, not only are they compelled by the state to pay to teach ideologies they oppose, they must pay for schools they do not use, it also diverts money from paying for education as they see fit.

The cost of society

We're all obligated to pay taxes for things we don't use. I could walk everywhere or ride a bike, while never setting a wheel to the road, but I'd still have to pay taxes for roads. I don't have kids, but I still pay taxes for education. I pay taxes to employ firemen and police, yet I've never directly used their services. It's the price we pay for society--because it's not all about you. You reap the benefits of society due, in part, to your contribution to the things you don't use directly. You still have the choice to use or not use them. No one, even the politicians that agree with you to your face, is going to buy the argument you just put forth. You do have options for not paying taxes, though. They involve leaving society, or at least the society set up in this country. If you wish to pay taxes as if you live in a third-world country, you have to expect third-world country standards and benefits.

So, yes, wrong. If you can't afford to educate your own kids, that's not anyone else's problem but your own. But, luckily for you and many others, that's why public education is available.

And if a family can't afford private school?

They will be indoctrinated by the out and queer-friendly coursework, forcing the family to make a choice: violate their rights of conscience (guaranteed by Art. I Sec. 16 of the Minnesota Constitution) or homeschool..

If they homeschool, they will still be forcibly compelled to pay school taxes supporting a curriculum that violates their beliefs. Unless the family is freed from paying taxes for a school they don't use and for the funding of beliefs that are antithetical to their own, the government will be in violation of their constitutional liberties.

Too bad

If a teacher can "indoctrinate" your kids better than you, who should have greater access to their time and behavior, then you might want to consider whether your need to indoctrinate them into your own beliefs outweighs your need to live in a society in which you're allowed to do so.

Your argument about paying taxes and freedom and their part in the Constitution is bent. As I said before, it's not all about you (nor is there any provision in the Constitution that suggests that it is). After all, I pay taxes that support you even though your beliefs are antithetical to my own. As a specific example, the infrastructure that supports the internet and your ability to air your beliefs in public while you sit at a computer is, at least in part, paid for by MY tax dollars. And you are here trying to make me believe what you believe. There's not a single thing I can do about it. And for liberty's sake, I'm glad for it.

Following your logic, I shouldn't have to pay taxes that support schools because those schools teach that Republicans exist and that my kids shouldn't shove Republican kids on the playground because they're Republicans and we don't like what they believe. How dare they teach my kids to respect all people, even Republicans, while forcing me to pay taxes to schools! That violates my constitutional liberties!

You apparently mistakenly believe that freedom, the US Constitution, society, and social benefit are available for purchase a la carte, where you can buy the stuff you want and never dirty your plate with a morsel you dislike.

"Too bad"

Thank you for your response. You've made your sentiments clear. No further explanation is necessary.

What you said

Ray, I really appreciate your thoughtful insights into current events and look forward to reading future posts.

This issue is actually kind of moot since the opponents of marriage equality have already lost the battle. Perhaps they can delay the inevitable in the short term but the generations following us overwhelmingly support marriage equality. To them it's a "given" just as is women's equality, racial equality, religious equality, etc. etc. Ironically the argument for marriage equality seamlessly intertwines with conservative arguments for "freedom".

So constitutional amendments may temporarily provide a sense of security for those unwilling to accept change, maybe get a few more of the base to the polls. But as far as I've seen in my years on this earth, the most constant constant is change.

Wow.

That must be a really scary world you live in.

Pleasant dreams, Mr. Krasnoff.

I think you can draw an easy

I think you can draw an easy line stating that marriage must be between consenting adults.Gays and lesbians do not seek a “new” right, but merely the same right that heterosexuals have, and a right which in America is first and foremost a civil and not a religious matter. Procreative capacity has never been the basis of marriage, therefore it is irrelevant, infertile heterosexuals are allowed to marry, after all.

Purpose of marriage.

The fundamental purpose of marriage is to form a union of a man and a woman as the basis for a family, the man and the woman engaging in the procreative act, and raising the successive generation. Exceptions do not make a rule. It is biologically impossible for members of the same sex to engage in the procreative act and consummate a marriage.

You are entitled to your own opinions, Mr. Schulze. You are not entitled to your own facts.

Context matters

Actually, the "fundamental purpose of marriage" has a lot to do with the context within that question is asked.

Within a (conservative) religious context, the "fundamental purpose of marriage" is likely to be stated to be procreation.

Whereas, within a secular (and some religious) context, the "fundamental purpose of marriage" may be more often held to be for loving companionship.

In some societies, and at other points in history, the "fundamental purpose of marriage" was to cement national or political alliances.

And among the very wealthy - again at various points in history - the "fundamental purpose of marriage" was a means to ensure that money stayed within the control only certain familial lines.

See? The "fundamental purpose of marriage" isn't quite as clearcut a "fact" as you thought it was . . . .

Irrelevant

since marriage was always in the "context" of male and female.

Next.

Learning from Mr. Swift

Isn't a good way to win your argument.

For example, avoiding facts, such as the fact that not all cultures only considered male/female pairs to be legitimate marriages. Several cultures have for quite some time been much more flexible about "marriage."
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2844434?uid=3739736&uid=2&uid=4&ui...
http://books.google.com/books?id=ZjbESL6YWU0C&lpg=PA255&ots=WdlOOaKAAq&d...
http://books.google.com/books?id=1ha9GgWNmy0C&hl=en
http://books.google.com/books?id=mlFp0nFhvbwC&hl=en
http://www.galiciae.com/nova/78210.html (in Spanish)

Another example of a poor habit to adhere to while having a reasonable conversation is dismissing another's statements with "next." This is a place where you may interact with people by conversing, not filling orders at a deli.

Learning from other "progressives"

Miss Kahler: do you really want to present as an argument for your cause based upon the Nandi and Nuer tribes in Africa, a non-western culture in Papua New Guinea, a single instance of two men in 1061 AD, and a book with (what appears to be) a homosexualist agenda?

Again, Miss Kahler, exceptions do not make a rule.

If you want to give an example of groupthink, there are better examples here at MinnPost. I have presented my arguments at Minnpost and have not received valid, fact based counterarguments and have gone unanswered.

Please, no lectures.

Homosexualist

Again, that word. It's not what you think it means.

Anyway, yeah. I'm saying that your statement that marriage has always been in the context of one man and one woman is wrong, and those are examples of why. Are you suggesting that non-Western cultures have no bearing on your statement? That they don't count? I don't have time to dig up every counterexample to your argument. But, it only takes one to disprove your statement. If you wish to provide a reason as to why these are not valid examples, feel free. But simply stating that they're not or they are part of a "homosexualist agenda" doesn't cut it.

If you don't want lectures, don't make false statements in public. I gave you valid, fact based counterarguments; I can't help that you deny their existence.

No, they don't count.

Miss Kahler wrote:

"Are you suggesting that non-Western cultures have no bearing on your statement? That they don't count?"

Exactly. The examples you cited were exceptions to even non-western cultures. You're really digging. Again: exceptions do not make a rule.

Exceptions

Exceptions are perfectly valid for defeating an absolute statement, which is what you made. Besides, I'm sure there are more. I still can't see why non-Western cultures don't count. It's odd that you consider African and Asian cultures to be inadequate examples. On what basis are they inferior to Western culture examples?

Strawman

You're misrepresenting my argument, whether by error or calculation. I did not state that "non-Western cultures don't count", nor did I state that "African and Asian cultures [were] inadequate examples".

I clearly stated that your examples "were exceptions to even non-western cultures."

Emphasis added: The examples Miss Kahler cited WERE EXCEPTIONS TO EVEN NON-WESTERN CULTURES.

I hope I have made my argument clear and that you understand the same.

States should not ban, even

States should not ban, even by popular vote, gays and lesbians from marrying because this would violate America’s constitution by denying some couples a fundamental right without a legitimate (much less compelling) reason. Fundamental rights cannot be at the mercy of the mob, even of the majority. If heterosexual individuals have the right to marry, this same right cannot be denied to homosexual couples unless a compelling reason for the prohibition can be shown.

If and when it goes to the Supreme Court level, anything could happen. Attorneys will be facing some of the best legal minds in the country, who will see the question from very different and probably unusual or quirky angles. Even if fails there, though, the general argument has benefited from having the issue teased out so thoroughly, with the strongest arguments on both sides teased out so meticulously, in an arena when law rather than simply gut reaction matters.

I'm going to repeat my challenge

Lot of "slippery slope" deniers making hay on this subject. Defenders of science, human biology, common sense and traditional morality make the case that the national gay rights groups want to force indoctrination upon our public school children, they use the book Beth speaks of as evidence.

But I have offered clear, unambigious proof of the agenda.

So again, I challenge MinnPost to make available an unredacted, unedited copy of the "Safe Schools Manual" that is used in classrooms, starting in grade 3, in the Saint Paul public school district.

http://outforequity.spps.org/safe_schools_manual.html

Then, let's have this discussion.

I have a copy, and will be happy to vouch for the authenticity of what is posted.

It's all well and good to make dismissive declarations regarding "slippery slopes", but I submit people in Minnesota are entitled to know the truth of what is happening in Minnesota today.

Given the effort MinnPost is putting into fighting the proposed constitutional amendment, I think in the interest of journalistic integrity, it is imparitive that the truth be told. This manual is public information, printed at public cost. There is no reason not to pubish it online.

The truth

According to you? I'll bite. Feel free to scan the document and upload it (once you get copyright permission). Go ahead and convince someone that it should be freely available online. Otherwise, I'm not particularly worried about a document that is supposed to provide "Practical strategies to make schools more safe and respectful for all students, families, and staff." Forgive me if it's not on my short list of things I'm afraid of.

Your burden of proof

You laid out a challenge. It's not up to you to tell MinnPost what to do. You made a claim, YOU prove it. If there really is a reason to be shaking in our shoes about this alleged agenda being passed through the schools as a handbook, then provide the evidence. With all due respect, the evidence so far is underwhelming. This booklet appears to provide no more than guidance on how to facilitate the creation of a respectful environment for all students and families. If you're worried about gay kids using this handbook to form a club of gay kids and kids that support gay kids, then you worry too much. But, if you want to make a big deal out of that, I'm sure I can find evidence that other special interest groups are doing the same thing--like Young Republicans.

Miss Hawkins and "rights"

Miss Hawkins wrote:

"On Oct. 7, 2008, one month before California voters were to decide whether to amend that state’s constitution to strip gays and lesbians of the right to marry, opponents of same-sex marriage aired a game-changing television ad."

Exactly what right to marry existed that was going to be "stripped" from homosexuals in California? There never existed any right for same sex marriage at any time in American jurisprudence, ever - until a lawyer in robes made one up.

There's no need to be an obscurantist, Miss Hawkins.

MinnPost states:

"MinnPost is a nonprofit, nonpartisan enterprise whose mission is to provide high-quality journalism for news-intense people who care about Minnesota."

Miss Hawkins is not being non-partisan.

It may have been short-lived . . . . .

but from May to November of 2008, gays and lesbians had the right to marry.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_re_Marriage_Cases :

"On May 15, 2008, the court ruled in a 4–3 decision that laws directed at gays and lesbians are subject to strict judicial scrutiny and that marriage is a fundamental right under Article 1, Section 7 of the California Constitution, thereby holding unconstitutional the previously existing statutory ban on same-sex marriage embodied in two statutes, one enacted by the Legislature in 1977, and the other through the initiative process in 2000 (Proposition 22)."

Obscurantist, huh? You're really giving that dictionary of yours quite the workout!

More bad news for Minnesota's legislature...

So what gives the Minnesota legislature or its people a right to establish marriage laws and regulate who may marry and who may not? Is that not the same as regulating religion? It is.

"Marriage" as an institution with a deep tap root. It goes deep into the Koran, the Bible, and the history of many indigenous peoples. “Marriage” includes the Zoroastrian ceremony conducted by Dr. Framrose Bode who married my wife and I in 1969. Dr. Bode told the gathering that ceremony was several thousand years old. That ceremony supposedly was among the first of any in human history.

I realize this is a tough notion for Minnesota’s legislature to fathom because they see themselves as omniscient; but the news is a world existed before Minnesota became a state or the USA became nation, and in this world people were married.