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What should Minnesotans make of the N.C. marriage vote?

Residents of the Old North State voted overwhelmingly to ban gay marriage on Tuesday.

As was widely anticipated, North Carolinians voted Tuesday to amend their state’s constitution to outlaw legal recognition of any domestic arrangement except for the marriage of one man and one woman.

Today, advocates campaigning for and against a similar proposal here are likely to spend the day putting their gloss on the potential impact of Amendment 1’s passage in Minnesota.

Their likely respective spins:

Opponents of same-sex marriage will note that the ban, the 31st straight win for their side at polls around the country, was enacted by an even wider margin than had been predicted. It passed by some 61 percent, vs. a predicted 55 percent.

And they will predict victory in the other states where voters this year are likely to cast ballots related to gay marriage: Minnesota, Maryland, Washington, Maine and possibly New Jersey.  

“I think it sends a message to the rest of the country that marriage is between one man and one woman,” the head of the vote-yes coalition said Tuesday night. “The whole point is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design based on the demands of a group of adults.”

Last southern state

In contrast, gay-rights supporters are likely to note that North Carolina was the last state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to enact a ban, and differs demographically from Minnesota in a number of important ways. Located in the Bible Belt, its Democrats lean toward the socially conservative.

They are also likely to argue that without either presidential nomination in play in yesterday’s primary, North Carolina’s unusually heavy vote can be credited to residents who otherwise would have been unlikely to turn out at all. Liberal Minnesotans, meanwhile, will be more likely to vote in next fall’s general election.

And they are likely to note that with nearly a year more lead time and a smaller gap to close — a January poll showed the pro-amendment forces ahead 48 percent to 44 percent — Minnesota’s same-sex marriage supporters enjoy better odds.

The confusion issue

There is likely some truth to all of that. And yet a poll taken in North Carolina over the weekend suggests that the biggest problem confronting vote-no campaigns in both states is simple confusion.

Both states already have statutes barring same-sex marriage. Supporters of the constitutional amendments have said they are needed to stop “activist judges” from overturning those laws.

Unlike Minnesota’s proposed ban, North Carolina’s Amendment 1 outlaws civil unions and domestic partnerships, even between heterosexuals. On Sunday, only 46 percent of that state’s residents realized the proposal did more than ban gay marriage; 61 percent of those who understood the scope opposed the amendment, according to the Democratically inclined Public Policy Polling.

Another 6 percent believed that a yes vote would legalize gay marriage; 20 percent reported having no idea what the amendment would do.

The poll conducted by the same firm in Minnesota in January did not test voter comprehension of the impact of a yes vs. a no vote on the November ballot question, only opinions about the legal recognition that should be afforded gay and lesbian couples.

“The language is fairly similar between the two amendments,” said Dustin Ingalls, assistant director of the polling firm. “I would expect to see a similar amount of confusion.”

Failure to convey consequences

Bill Hillsmansimonandschuster.netBill Hillsman

To strategist Bill Hillsman, the adman whose spot-on campaigns helped propel dark horses Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura to victory, that confusion suggests the vote-no forces blew it.

“People there didn’t really know it would ban civil unions as well,” he said. “That seems to have been a major failing that they didn’t do a decent job telling people about the consequences.”

Nor is Hillsman convinced it matters that Minnesota is “bluer” than North Carolina. “In Minnesota you’re not going to be able to get this [defeated] on the backs of Democrats across the state,” he said. “The numbers just don’t work.”

If the amendment is to be defeated here, he said, it will be because of gay-rights support among liberal Republicans and suburban conservatives who don’t think there’s anything wrong with same-sex unions.

Sees independents as swing voters

Minnesota’s independents will be the swing voters, he argued: “They tend to be fiscally conservative but socially libertarian.”

Indeed, Republican lawmakers likely had reasons beyond banning gay marriage for putting the amendment on the ballot in November. “What happened in ’08 scared Republicans so badly they’re looking for opportunities to put socially conservative items on the ballot with Obama,” said Hillsman. “They can get people to come out just to vote for that.”

About half a million people voted early in North Carolina. It was unclear yesterday whether anyone was conducting exit polling, but as expected the survey taken Sunday showed older voters and conservatives more likely to vote yes.

One surprise: Many African-Americans planned to vote against the measure. Possibly because the North Carolina NAACP and many black leaders came out strongly against Amendment 1, support among African-Americans narrowed from 71 percent in November to 55 percent last weekend.

Vote-yes leaders had planned to “drive a wedge” between blacks and gays, according to internal memos disclosed as a part of a lawsuit pending in Maine.  

Comments (35)

  1. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 05/09/2012 - 10:18 am.

    Gay Marriage laws

    It is my opinion that gay marriage laws are not only discriminatory, but reek of religious bigotry and are as demonic in nature as the Nazi’s hatred of the Jews. A study of history will show you that that every ruthless dictator used some form of religious bigotry and hatred to continue their reign of terror and murder. Recent leaders include Hussein, Bin Laden, Taylor, Amin, Duvalier, going back to Hitler and Stalin and throughout history. Now you can add the Christian Evangelical leaders like Harris, who recently advocated parents beating and whipping gay children. As discriminatory religious laws are placed on the books, the closer we become to being a demonic society.

    • Submitted by Stephen Dent on 05/09/2012 - 11:40 am.

      Mr. Kjer….

      …well said. What heterosexuals who are wavering or ambiguous about this amendment is that in fact, it not only takes away civil liberties for a large minority, but as the Lutheran minister Martin Niemoller said about Hitler eroding civil liberties:

      First they came for the communists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

      Then they came for me
      and there was no one left to speak out for me.

      Americans…please, wake up. The Tea Party advocates and their corporate and Republican allies are bashing the “communists” (Obama is a socialist) dismantle the unions,(Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana…everywhere the ALEC people have influence) and while Jews are currently safe, replace Jews with Gays and Lesbians and there you go.

      All thoughtful Americans should take heed…next time they may come after you and there will be no one left to speak out for you.

      • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 05/09/2012 - 05:30 pm.

        Is this a joke?

        “while Jews are currently safe”.

        There is a rise in worldwide anti-Semitism perpetrated by Islamists their leftist collaborators. There are Islamists who wish to annihilate the Jews and their homeland if you haven’t noticed.

        Your disgraceful, hyperbolic analogy between homosexuals not being able to “marry” each other and the Nazi slaughter of European Jewry is a desecration of the memory of the Jews who perished al kiddush HaShem.

        • Submitted by Stephen Dent on 05/10/2012 - 11:21 am.

          “Your disgraceful, hyperbolic analogy between homosexuals not being able to “marry” each other and the Nazi slaughter of European Jewry is a desecration of the memory of the Jews who perished al kiddush HaShem.” – – – well pardon me. I only meant to say that Jews in the United States are currently not threatened. I did not mean to mar the memory of those who perished almost 70 years ago under one of the most horrific regimes in the world. And I was referring to civil liberties, not genocide when I suggested that yes, when one is denied equality, all are denied equality. Peace…and chill.

    • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 05/10/2012 - 05:50 pm.

      re: same sex “marriage” laws

      Mr. Kjer stated:

      “gay marriage laws … are as demonic in nature as the Nazi’s hatred of the Jews”.

      Counterargument follows.

      1. Violent riots are not being organized against homosexuals by political parties or the government;
      2. Homosexuals are not:
      a. being transported to and detained in concentration camps, slave labor camps, or extermination camps;
      b. subject to deportation and genocide;
      c. placed under surveillance or deprived of passports without cause;
      d. murdered by mobile killing squads;
      e. subjected as prisoners to brutal third degree methods or torture as official government policy;
      f. having their relatives imprisoned without cause;
      g. executed without trial;
      h. subject to “Night and Fog” decrees under which they are charged with an offense and are either executed within a week or secretly transported without being permitted to communicate with their family and friends;
      i. subject to slave labor;
      j. subject to forced medical experimentation at concentration or extermination camps;
      k. subjected to forced marches; and
      l: imprisoned in ghettos.

      You can either prove your assertion or retract at anytime.

      • Submitted by Stephen Dent on 05/11/2012 - 04:01 pm.

        Jewish Democratic Council news release….

        “A National Jewish Democratic Council news release “enthusiastically applauded” Obama’s announcement.”

      • Submitted by Stephen Dent on 05/11/2012 - 04:18 pm.

        No….but they are:

        beaten to death
        hung on fence posts to die
        denied jobs
        denied equal benefits
        discriminated against

        while, you, Mr. Krasnoff, whom I assume, is a heterosexual Jew, enjoy the full benefits, rights and privileges under the Constitution of the United States in the year 2012. You are privileged while other Americans are not. Yet it appears to me, that in fact, your beliefs and anger appear are more in line with those ultra-extreme right wing than with the generosity and compassion of most of those who belong to your religion. History has determined Hitler was a right wing fanatic.

        Please note: A National Jewish Democratic Council news release “enthusiastically applauded” Obama’s announcement.

        Perhaps rather than taking offense at those you disagree with by turning everything into tirade about the holocaust, perhaps you could open your heart to ensure all Americans have equal rights.

        • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 05/13/2012 - 01:36 am.


          Mr. Dent: You were the one who used the Nazi analogy, not I.

          I could care what the NJDC believes. They do not represent normative Judaism.

          • Submitted by Stephen Dent on 05/14/2012 - 02:33 pm.

            Remember the Pink Triangles….

            One more thing, Mr. Krasnoff, you seem to forget. Gay and Lesbians suffered much harsher conditions and treatment in the concentration camps under the Nazis, including all of the items in your list of atrocities, than any other group. This is a documented fact collaborated my the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation and the National Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. But you don’t want to recognize anything but your own bitter and angry reality and I think, want everyone to be as miserable as you are. This is my last posting to you. Have a happy life and please, be sure to vote against marriage equality. You should feel good after denying another minority equal civil rights. .

            • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 05/16/2012 - 07:59 am.

              Remember the SturmAbteilung

              and the homosexual thugs in its highest eschelons. The Nazis were after the Jews to exterminate, not homosexuals.

              Aside from your personal attack – which somehow got by the moderators – read some history before you attempt some revisionist equivalence.

              • Submitted by Emily Sojourn on 05/16/2012 - 03:30 pm.


                “…The Nazis were after the Jews to exterminate, not homosexuals.”

                Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Please do some research yourself.

                “Between 1933–45, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, of whom some 50,000 were officially sentenced.Most of these men served time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of those sentenced were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps. It is unclear how many of the 5,000 to 15,000 eventually perished in the camps, but leading scholar Ruediger Lautman believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in the camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors.”

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/14/2012 - 10:15 am.

          What History?

          What history found Hitler on the right? Let’s review what Hitler said. He preached class warfare, agitating the working class to resist “exploitation” by capitalists (modern day Wall Street). He called for the nationalization of education, transportation, industry, and health care. Of course, gun control was enforced. The OK list included pornography, abortion, and illegitimacy. Sounds more like the left.

          • Submitted by Stephen Dent on 05/14/2012 - 02:23 pm.

            Perhaps you should read a history book. The communist were considered left-wing; the fascist were considered right wing by post- World War II historians. Something most of today’s right-winger want to forget. Fascism is a right-wing political ideology based on today’s definition and terminology.

            • Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/15/2012 - 10:22 am.

              Perhaps you should …

              address my comments.

              None of those salient elements of Hitler’s Nazism are right wing, are they?

            • Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/15/2012 - 10:34 am.

              Since we are recommending history books,

              I have a recommendation for you:

              “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change”, by Jonah Goldberg (2009)

  2. Submitted by Wes Davey on 05/09/2012 - 11:27 am.

    OK, the religious right has passed another anti-gay marriage amendments, but their efforts will all be in vain when Prop 8 (Perry V. Schwarzenegger) reaches the Supreme Court and the justices invalidate all of these unconstitutional state amendments…for the same reasons stated in the Iowa Supreme Court in Varnum V. Brien. The Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment are there to protect the rights of the minority from the votes of the majority.

  3. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 05/09/2012 - 11:46 am.

    You can marry your cousin, but you can’t marry a gay person

    This shouldn’t surpirse anyone and is further proof to me that we should have never fought the Civil War. Look at the grief the Southern States have created for us ever since – the KKK, Jim Crow, George W. Bush.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/09/2012 - 12:58 pm.

      Jeremy, your list would be incomplete without …

      John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Al Gore (Jr. & Sr), Jimmy Carter, Robert Byrd, Lyndon Johnson

      • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/09/2012 - 04:30 pm.

        You left out a few too, Steve

        Huey Long, George Wallace, Lester Maddox, Tom DeLay, Bull Connor, Newt Gingrich, Strom Thurmond, etc

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/10/2012 - 10:13 am.

          You left out a few too, Logan

          Including the 21 U.S. Senators who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 20 of the 21 were Democrats; most notable on the list are Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, and Al Gore Sr.

          • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/10/2012 - 02:20 pm.

            Those 3 have been mentioned

            And many of those Southern “Democrats” were Dixiecrats, more similar to Southern Republicans of today.

            • Submitted by Steve Rose on 05/14/2012 - 10:23 am.

              Two of them deserve mention again

              An 83-day filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was lead by Senators Albert Gore, Sr. (D-TN), J. William Fulbright (D-AR), and Robert Byrd (D-WV).

              I don’t think there is a single southern Republican who would today vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That is conjecture, but the legislative record stands.

  4. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 05/09/2012 - 12:28 pm.

    We’re not North Carolina

    The NC results simply make me want to redouble my efforts to assure that discrimination against my friends, neighbors, and fellow Minnesotans is not locked into our constitution. We can rise above the poor example set in NC and other similarly bigoted states.

  5. Submitted by Scott Stansbarger on 05/09/2012 - 01:24 pm.

    God’s Design?

    The head of the ‘Vote-Yes coalition’ stated the following: “The whole point is simply that you don’t rewrite the nature of God’s design based on the demands of a group of adults.”

    Here’s the problem with that statement…The majority of residents from the state of NC voted against the rights of homosexuals to marry. For “Christians” to use God as their reason for voting for the marriage amendment is laughable in the fact that how we view marriages today is not even remotely close to how they were performed and viewed back during the biblical times. If nothing else, they were voting down the rights of others in what THEY viewed as marriage, not how God viewed marriage.

    I will NEVER understand how we the people, can continually allow the rights of others to be up for a vote. I shake my head in disgust.

  6. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/09/2012 - 03:01 pm.

    The NC Vote Was a Vote to Establish a Particular Religious

    Viewpoint in that state. This means it was a vote to DIS-establish all those more liberal-to-moderate Christians who believe differently in favor of conservatives who oppose gay marriage, claiming that it does not fit the “Biblical model” (while ignoring the wild variations concerning marriage contained in the Biblical Old Testament: polygamy, massive numbers of wives and concubines, etc.).

    There is a MASSIVE danger in this because the same populace that can vote to establish a religious viewpoint, can just as easily vote to outlaw one. By the same framework, for instance, any state could vote to outlaw Mormonism, or Catholicism, or Lutheranism, or adult baptism, or infant baptism. Such practices as snake handling or circumcision could be outlawed.

    “Wives, submit to your husbands” could be written into the laws of any state.

    Since NO ONE has, nor ever will be forced into marrying a person of their own gender, nor will any church be forced to host, nor clergy member forced to officiate over a same sex marriage, the allowing of gay marriage DOES NOT infringe on the religious rights of anyone,…

    whereas prohibiting the marriage between two people of the same gender clearly is in violation of their constitutional right to “equal protection under the law.”

    Aside from the need to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and abuse, I do NOT want other churches using the state to tell the church where I worship what it must do,…

    but if I, and people with whom I share worship wish to preserve that right for ourselves, then it must be preserved for those with whom we disagree as well.

    Lacking that, it’s only a matter of time before states where a particularly rigid religious perspective holds sway will begin to outlaw all others in the name of “faithfulness to [their image of] God.”

    • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 05/15/2012 - 05:41 pm.

      Even in the secular world

      marriage has always been between a man and a women.

      • Submitted by Kay Nordlund on 05/22/2012 - 02:04 pm.


        Okay, I’ll bite. Is it the term “marriage” that you oppose so vehemently?
        If so, how about we change the terminology completely, but then everyone, gay or straight would be called that “term” in regards to the government’s (state or federal) role in that union. The term “marriage” would be reserved only for the religious aspect of the union. In my church it wouldn’t matter we recognize gay marriage and have for decades.
        In my opinion the government should stay out of the marriage game in its entirety especially if it is going to discriminate against consenting, law-abiding adults.
        I would argue that marriage actually was originally about one man and whatever chattel he could possess. You do realize that the church hasn’t always been involved in marriages right? It was originally a much more functionary aspect of local government in correlation with the distribution of wealth.

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/09/2012 - 04:39 pm.

    I like Kenneth Kjer’s phrase

    “…reek of religious bigotry…” seems absolutely on the mark to me. The objection to same-sex marriage is, more often than not, framed religiously, which suggests rather strongly that what’s happening is the imposition of a particular religious view upon the rest of society. A good lawyer, or perhaps even a mediocre one, ought to be able to make a pretty good case that this sort of thing violates the “establishment” clause of the Constitution without too much trouble.

    But even a good case might not be enough. I’d like to share Wes Davey’s optimism about Perry v. Schwarzenegger, but I don’t have that much faith in the current SCOTUS.

    As for Tami Fitzgerald’s statement (“…You don’t rewrite God’s design…”), it’s of a piece with religious orthodoxy that goes back centuries. The hubris involved in presuming that she actually knows “God’s design” is pretty staggering all by itself, as any careful reading of the New Testament will show. The whole point of Martin Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church, and the foundation of Protestant Christianity around the world, is that every single individual is free to interpret The Bible as they see fit. Tami Fitzgerald’s interpretation is no more valid – or less valid – than anyone else’s – so the implication that her interpretation is the “right” one is theologically ludicrous.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/10/2012 - 07:58 am.


      This isn’t about “religious bigotry,” it’s about 10,000 years of human history, regardless of religious beliefs, from the most primordial tribes to the most advanced civilizations recognizing “marriage” as the biological pairing of one each of the two sexes.

      Sometimes I can’t believe how selectively ignorant the politically correct can be when it comes to their causes.

      • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 05/10/2012 - 11:48 am.


        If you are going to make this about the history of marriage, don’t you actually need to look at the history? Especially if you are going to accuse others of ignorance?

        There are cultures (Rome, China) that recognized same sex marriages thousands of years ago. Just are there have been numerous cultures that recognized plural marriages (which some still do). For most of history, the concept of marriage was just about economics – women were treated as property to be traded or given away. The current notion of marriage – or the one that Mr. Tester believes has dominated human history, has really only existed for a couple hundred years, and even that has gone through a lot of changes.

        And even if Mr. Tester’s history was correct, the fact that something has been done for thousands of years doesn’t mean that it should continue. The treatment of women as property or at least second-class citizens has occurred throughout human history. Slavery has been a part of human history for thousands of years. But those things have changed (or are changing) and the changes are now nearly universally accepted. 20 years from now, the idea of same sex marriage will be no different.

        • Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 05/10/2012 - 06:07 pm.

          Don’t be so sure.

          If your wishes come true, Mr. Hintz, in twenty years there will be an explosion in Salafi and Takfiri demographics once polygamy is also legalized.

          The only choice homosexuals will have at that point will be a stone wall or a construction crane.

          Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Hintz.

          • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 05/11/2012 - 02:06 pm.


            For what its worth, my wish would actually be that same sex marriage be both legal and universally accepted right now. But my point about it being universally accepted 20 years from now is not based on wishes, but on the growing support for same sex marriage over the last 20 years and the fact that this growth correlates with age, with younger people being much more supportive.

            Neal, I realize that you are fond of dropping obscure religious terms in lieu of coherent arguments, as you have done in other comments to this article, but even after looking up Salafi and Takfiri, I still don’t have any idea what you are talking about in the rest of your comment.

            In case anyone else wants to try to figure it out:



  8. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 05/09/2012 - 10:54 pm.

    MN is different

    Carter/Mondale won here didn’t they.
    Non-vote is a no vote. After voters check the Obama box and leave the amendment fails.
    No man can marry another another man, no woman can marry another woman, seems equal under the Constitution.
    Definition of a bigot: Someone who disagrees with you.
    At least I’m a free infidel–you bigots!

  9. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/10/2012 - 09:21 am.

    Some posters

    Need to review the definition of a bigot.

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