From Cindy Brucato at MinnPost earlier this month:
Two congressmen, two former U.S. Senators, and the minority leaders in the Minnesota House and Senate are part of unusually high-powered group of hosts for a fundraiser on behalf of a state representative.
Norm Coleman, Rudy Boschwitz, Tom Emmer, David Hann, Kurt Daudt, Erik Paulsen, and John Kline are supporters of Eden Prairie Republican Jenifer Loon. Loon is running for re-election after failing to receive her party’s endorsement because of her vote last year to make same-sex marriage legal in Minnesota.
Sheila Kihne, an activist who may challenge Loon in a primary, led the fight to deny Loon’s endorsement. “I will make a decision on running in primary after the legislative session ends and before June 1,” she said in an email.
I find it unlikely that Emmer, Hann, Daudt, Paulsen or Kline are abandoning their aggressive opposition to same sex marriage that animates their base. But the numbers DO suggest that what the right used in the past decade or so as a wedge issue to defeat Democrats is now coming back to bite them as a wedge issue among Republicans. This is true especially between the anti-same-sex marriage component which includes the religious right and the Tea Partiers, and those more moderate right wingers who see the writing on the wall that this is not just a lost cause but an epically failed issue for them. The facts are not their friends, the trends are not their friends. Heck – REALITY is not on their side.
From the PiPress last summer:
Minnesota gay-marriage foes eye 2014 House campaign
On the day same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota, the main group opposing the law announced a campaign to elect a “pro-marriage majority” to the state House in 2014.
Minnesota for Marriage said it will support lawmakers who took politically difficult votes against the gay marriage bill and encourage opposition to those who voted for it.
The lead group in favor of same-sex marriage, Minnesotans United for All Families, announced in May that it would work to re-elect lawmakers who voted for the new law.
Minnesota for Marriage spokeswoman Autumn Leva said her group’s initiative is being launched with money from the National Organization for Marriage.
A statement on the organization’s website said it will spend up to $500,000 in Minnesota and $100,000 in Rhode Island, where gay marriage also became legal Thursday.
In Minnesota, the focus is on the House because its members face election in 2014, Leva said. She said Senate races will be targeted in 2016.
The far right is not going to give up, and they are – or at least were – willing to put both effort and money to fight it. Arguably the result is that the Democrats will have an easier time winning against incumbents, both at the state legislator level, but also in the Congressional races as well in CD2, CD3 and CD6. And given that the only member of the legislature from the right who voted for same sex marriage AND who both received a unanimous endorsement AND no primary challenger (so far at least) is from Farmington in CD2. That seems to suggest that Kline’s adamant anti-gay positions will NOT get him the support in his congressional district that it did in the past.
We’ve seen a steady parade of new states added to the long list having same sex marriage bans overturned, either legislative bans or state constitutional bans. Some of these have been in the reddest of red states, like Utah, Texas and Idaho. Among realists, this heralds the end of same-sex marriage bans; for those who are hardcore ideologues, it spurs them to fight harder to reverse the trend, no matter how badly they are losing in both the courts and public opinion.
And here in Minnesota, in a very real sense, our own battle with legalizing the recognition of same-sex marriage is not quite over. As a context, last August after same-sex marriage went into effect, one in three marriage licenses were to same-sex couples, according to this from MinnPost.
One in three marriage licenses issued in August were for gay couples. Brian Bakst and Patrick Condon of the AP write: “Since Minnesota became the 12th U.S. state to legalize gay marriage, at least 1,640 same-sex couples applied to be married. Counties aren’t required to report such data to the state, so the AP built a database through calls to all 87 counties. Millions of dollars were spent trying to block gay marriage in Minnesota, while many millions more were spent trying to achieve it. The rush by same-sex couples to take advantage of the new law likely reflects a pent-up demand by couples together for many years. … At least 1,433 licenses were issued to gay couples in the 12 counties where most voters opposed a 2012 attempt to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota’s constitution. One county in that category —St. Louis — wouldn’t provide a license breakdown.”
I don’t know of any continuing data on same-sex couples taking out marriage licenses in Minnesota, but it is worth noting that marriage rates overall are on something of a decline over the last century, with marriage at an all time low, per a report from USA Today on May 15th. At the same time, co-habitation is increasing. So, it makes some degree of sense to feel that so-called traditional marriage is under stress, but that stress doesn’t seem to be from same-sex couples wanting to be ‘gay-married’. No one can find any rationale, in the legal challenges to same-sex marriage, as to how same-sex marriage harms heterosexual marriage.
And it’s not like the right wing-nut efforts to boost heterosexual ‘traditional’ marriage have been successful — which is important, since right wing candidates are now pushing marriage as the solution to poverty. This is the new conservative gong they’re clanging, evidence of the dearth of ideas and the vain grasping at illogical solutions posited by the radical and even not-so-radical right. From Think Progress:
And the government’s attempts at promoting marriage have shown pitiful results compared to the huge sums of money it spent. It spent $800 million on the Health Marriage Initiative but the national marriage rate continued to decline and the divorce rate remained unchanged, while state-level spending from the program didn’t have any significant association with marriage rates in those states. It spent $11,000 per couple in the Building Strong Families program but had no effect on whether couples got married or even stayed together, while those who enrolled were less likely to stick it out and the fathers were less likely to be involved with their children. And it spent $9,100 per couple in the Supporting Healthy Marriage program but it didn’t lead to more couples staying together or getting married and it had little impact on children’s well-being.
Meanwhile, despite Bush’s claim that marriage is more effective than policy at alleviating poverty, that also is not the case. While a disproportionate number of single mothers and their children live in poverty in the United States as compared to some other developed countries, that’s mostly due to differences in policy. Matt Bruenig at Demos found that family composition can’t account for the country’s high child poverty rates, but that our tax system and social safety net can. Without those public programs, the American poverty rate for children who live with single mothers looks similar to Finland, Norway, and Sweden; it’s after those are all taken into account that the difference emerges.
Traditional heterosexual marriage is not thriving, not succeeding, and sure-as-hell is not lifting anyone out of poverty. There is no evidence that this has anything remotely to do with same-sex marriage either. This is just more fact-free failed ideology from the right — and yet, absent any new ideas it is arguably one of their foundational political base issues.
Fast forward from the 2013 legislative session that legalized same-sex marriage in Minnesota to the 2014 campaign cycle. To recap, four Republicans crossed part lines to vote for legalizing same-sex marriage. Andrea Kieffer of Woodbury did not seek re-election; Eden Prairie state rep Jennifer Loon, lost her MN GOP endorsement, and David Fitzsimmons of St. Michael., lost his MN GOP endorsement; the always entertaining gaffe-prone Pat Garafolo in Farmington kept his endorsement.
So are Kline, Paulsen and Emmer trying to have it both ways? Or is this going to hit at least Kline hard in the voting booth, reflecting a trend that now disapproves of same-sex marriage opposition. It is not easy for Kline to back away from his record on same-sex opposition. According to the political guide.com, John Kline legislative record shows:
Voted for a the Marriage Protection Act to allow states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from another state in 2004;
Voted for a federal Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman in 2004 and 2006;
Voted against repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010;
Co-sponsored the following legislation:
Session-111; Bill Number-H R 2608; Marriage and DC – Cosponsor
Defines “marriage” for all legal purposes in the District of Columbia to mean the union of one man and one woman.
Session-110; Bill Number-H R 724; Marriage Protection Act of 2007 – Cosponsor
To amend title 28, United States Code, to limit Federal court jurisdiction over questions under the Defense of Marriage Act.
Kline’s voting record doesn’t square well with his support for Jennifer Loon. Could it simply reflect Kline selling out his base and his principles for approval and some cash from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? Loon’s husband is their MN guy. What price for that support will it cost him from his base among the hard core same-sex bigots?
And if this division over same-sex marriage persists, will it give an additional advantage to Mike Obermueller in CD2? Because John Kline can’t have it both ways, to be for AND against same sex marriage.