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Delegates to state GOP convention will vote on marriage definition

Delegates at the Republican state convention in St. Cloud next week will vote on whether to change the party’s platform to eliminate the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The resolution, advanced by the fourth congressional district, is not likely to pass.  In fact, it may not even reach the threshold of support to warrant a floor debate.  But gay rights advocates consider the vote itself a victory.

“The sheer fact that it has come up through several different layers shows that Republicans are actively engaged in the conversation,” said Jake Loesch, who works with Republican coalitions at Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign to defeat the marriage amendment.

The resolution, whether adopted or not, also embodies a shift toward making the platform more of a debate on a statement of principles and less of a legislative agenda.

“We tried to address concerns about the platform getting too big,” said Harry Niska, a 31-year-old lawyer from Anoka who chairs the party’s platform committee.

The committee of 18 volunteers had the responsibility of culling 60 resolutions from the more than 500 that were passed in the state’s eight congressional district conventions.

“We tried to get what we thought was not too specific, but not too general; salient issues that we thought had broad-based interest among the delegates statewide,” Niska said.

Some of the resolutions Niska described as “big, controversial,” like the resolution to strike the party’s objection to the expansion of gambling. Versions of that resolution came from the third and fourth congressional districts that, along with the fifth, represent the core of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The party’s libertarian wings play a greater role in those districts and is more likely to challenge the party platform on gambling, gay rights, and even legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, a resolution that emerged from the fifth district.

Four congressional districts offered resolutions on reducing the size of the platform. The result is a resolution to retain the party’s statement of principles but sunset the platform every two years. 

Lengthy ballot

The convention’s 2,000 plus delegates and alternates will see that resolution along with several dozen others on a lengthy ballot that includes notations from the platform committee stating whether a resolution is recommended, not recommended or no position has been taken by the panel. Resolutions to simplify the platform and consolidate the party’s position on health care carry recommendations. The resolution on marriage received a negative recommendation, “but we did decide to bring it forward,” Niska noted.  Elimination of the party’s opposition to gambling has no position from the committee.

Debate on resolutions can go on for groan-inducing hours. To speed up action, a resolution must receive 50 percent support on the paper ballot before it moves to floor discussion. A resolution that gets more than 70 percent on initial balloting gets adopted without discussion.

Many of the resolutions that made the final cut still read like Republican legislative proposals – – resolutions on voter ID, the so-called castle doctrine (allowing force to protect a person’s property) and regulation and inspections of facilities that provide abortions.   

“It can be quite a chore,” Niska said, describing the multiple hours of committee work and the effort to avoid creating “the entire legislative agenda for the state of Minnesota.”  But he’s satisfied with the progress. “There was enough of a consensus that we should be trying to reform this process,” he said. “It’s an art, not a science.” 

Paul to address convention

The state GOP has announced that presidential candidate and Texas Rep. Ron Paul will address the delegates May 18, the first night of the convention, following the endorsement of a candidate to run against Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Paul endorsee Kurt Bills, a state representative from Lakeville, is favored to win the endorsement over challengers Pete Hegseth and Dan Severson.  Paul supporters in Minnesota have mounted an impressive and successful campaign to gain him support among delegates. Paul now holds 20 of the 24 at-large delegates that will go to the national Republican Convention in August.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2012 - 01:20 pm.

    An utterly pointless exercise

    It isn’t even good political theater. The experience of recent years has shown that Republicans are willing to violate any of their stated beliefs in smaller government and personal liberty to advance to agenda of the Christian right. Why does anyone think a mere “we want to streamline the platform” would give a resolution dropping opposition to gay marriage any traction?

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/10/2012 - 02:13 pm.

      What will be interesting, if indeed Ron Paul has captured the Minnesota convention, is how all of those libertarians justify a gay marriage ban.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/10/2012 - 03:16 pm.


    I guess this means that the democrats are going to get the gay vote and the republicans are once again stuck with the normal-people vote. Oh well.

  3. Submitted by Rachel Weisman on 05/10/2012 - 05:03 pm.

    The problem the Republicans face is that they have to accommodate the hate-filled right and the looney-right all the time pretending to be the old reasonable right. Good luck with that.

  4. Submitted by Vincent Lawrence on 05/11/2012 - 09:17 am.

    Delegates to state GOP Convention

    I read words like “hate filled right”
    I feel no hate for anyone, I do however want to protect and keep in tact my Faith.

    The issue is “Marriage”
    Marriage is a Sacrament of the Christian Faith, Instituted by Christ, with it’s Foundation
    in The Ten Commandments.

    I am a person that wants to follow my Faith In Christ, and GOD the FATHER.
    My God did not appoint me to judge anyone.

    Each of you has the free will of God, To follow God and The Law of God, or not.
    And God and only God should judge you.

    Keep it simple.
    Do not infringe on my First Amendment Rights.

  5. Submitted by Brad Mennicke on 05/14/2012 - 01:15 pm.

    From the author of the resolution.

    I’m from CD4 and authored a resolution to remove support of the Marriage Amendment from the MNGOP platform. Somebody else in another CD4 district may have authored one as well, but I authored one and have successfully argued for it at the three different levels that have taken place so far. With the 50% vote before debate, the resolution might not have a chance. I’ll be attending state as an alternate, but will try and encourage enough people to at least bring it up for debate.

    I am a Ron Paul supporter, and many of us recognize that marriage has both civil and religious meanings. We recognize that a civil contract recognized by the state should be open to all of its citizens, and that the religious definition should be up to each religion to define as they see fit. My religion believes that marriage should be between a man and woman, however, I do not feel this should be a civil law. If we grant the power of the majority to define civil law based on religious practices, what happens if “we” no longer have the majority.

    RB HOLBROOK and NEAL ROVICK, Ron Paul supporters such as my self have recognized some of the hypocrisy in the GOP and have had enough. We have organized, run, and won many of the GOP leadership positions in CD4 and throughout much of the metro. There are many in the old guard of the GOP who are angry and afraid of what is to come.

    If the GOP is to truly be for small government, it must take that belief to heart and not promote laws based on a social agenda.

  6. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 05/20/2012 - 07:05 am.

    To the author of the resolution.

    To paraphrase one of Ron Paul’s Libertarian minions at the Caucus in Minneapolis:

    “Why start your own Party when you can take one over?”

    This reminds me of how the Green-Dems (the left wing of the DFL) was able to endorse Keith Ellison and gain control of the DFL. The Ron Paul activists are no different. Who is it, besides the activists, show up to the caucuses? What happened to the Republicans answers that question. Again.

    At the Minneapolis Republican caucus, I did not join the Party, I signed up as an observer only. The convener was a Ron Paul supporter, and I told her very directly that I didn’t leave the DFL to be spit on again.

    Do you, Mr. Mennicke, also argue for the repeal of MN Stat. 517.02 and 517.03?

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