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Why the DFL should push for marriage equality immediately

by Joe Bodell on November 11, 2012 · 6 comments

The DFL should push for full marriage equality, along the lines of my proposed legislation, immediately. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good politics as well.

I was going to start this post by reviewing MPR’s list of DFL legislators who represent districts where the marriage amendment was supported by a majority, but frankly, the presentation of that information is designed to foster weakness and failure among legislators who are rightfully concerned, in part, with keeping their newly won seats.

Instead, let’s focus for a moment on MPP alum Tony Petrangelo’s analysis of correlations between different races:

By isolating the suburbs what becomes clear is that it wasn’t the Marriage amendment that caused so many seats to flip. The variance in the Marriage amendment vote only explains about 10% of the variance in the legislative vote.

The variance in the Presidential vote however, explains 80% of the variance in suburban votes for the Minnesota legislature.

It wasn’t the Marriage amendment that delivered suburban Minnesota to the DFL, it was the presence of Barack Obama at the top of the ticket that did it.

You got all that? The single biggest variable driving DFL turnout and performance in this election, from the State House all the way up to the amendments, was the presence of Barack Obama at the top of the ticket.

Supporting a legislative drive for full marriage equality would be a great way to ensure that those Obama votes don’t fall off from 2012 to 2016 as they did from 2008 to 2010, and give legislators even in those “marriage amendment yes-vote majority” districts a way to drive their bases to the polls in the next midterm election. It would essentially turn the issue on its head — instead of a discriminatory amendment driving conservative votes, forward-looking legislation would drive progressive votes to the polls in big numbers.

Good policy meets good politics. It’s a win-win.

dan.burns November 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

about which I’m half-serious.  Though they kept their seats, think of the shock and humiliation experienced, in the election’s wake, by Kiffmeyer, The Draz, Gruenhagen, etc., etc.  Let’s rub it in and break their spirit.

Alec November 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Is to make it a non-issue by putting it behind us.

If this is not dealt with, it will be a campaign issue in 2014. If it is passed, it will be forgotten by most except the most hard core. Think of the optics of going back later and outlawing someone’s existing marriage. Only the biggest dick would try and repeal someone’s marriage, and everyone would see them as such.

Further, this cautious, timid, pussyfooting , prevent defense legislating style NEVER works.

We do it every time, and every time it fails. Look at health care. We started with the least offensive, most corporate, most conservative plan possible in order to garner independent and conservative support.  How’d that compromising, magnanimous approach work out in 2010?  

It’s time to start acting like we won, and quit apologizing for it.  

username November 12, 2012 at 1:38 am

17 DFL House members and 10 DFL senators are in districts where the amendment passed with 50 percent or more of the vote – http://minnesota.publicradio.o… – so the legislative politics will be tangled.

Their names are being circulated –

Bakk signaled a go-slow approach to a gay marriage law in his first statement after being elected Senate majority leader. Richard Carlbom of MNUnited, interviewed on Almanac on Friday night, also signaled caution.

The Supreme Court is likely to take up this issue soon. It’s also quite possible it will rule in a positive direction.  See this piece on Anthony Kennedy, who is almost certainly the deciding vote:

This issue will need to be sold well. MNUnited found the sweet spot during the campaign. Letting them lead us into the legislative thicket is probably a good idea.

Joe Bodell November 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Right near the top. That piece was central to my point: that especially in those districts, those incumbents will need a reason to get Obama voters out to the polls to soften the mid-term drop off.

And with all due respect to SCOTUS, I don’t trust Kennedy to rule one way or another on any given issue. He revels in being the swing vote, and I would rather take care of this before the Nine have a chance to weigh in.

username November 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm

…to vote against the wishes of their constituencies, you’d better get on the phone. This may take a while.

But before you start, please be sure to have a ready explanation for them as to why your pushing this social legislation up against an apparent legislative majority – as opposed to focusing on things like balancing the budget, re-funding education, putting together a serious bonding bill, and jobs, jobs, jobs – is somehow different from the Republicans’ objectionable promotion of  the amendments and other social legislation ahead of economic recovery bills in the last two sessions.

Don’t forget to explain to them why your judgement is better than Tom Bakk’s, Richard Carlbom’s and MNUnited’s. And remember to have an explanation for your fear, with every demographic trend coming our way, that time will work against overturning the law, and why timing is thus more important to you than certainty and permanency.

I’m predicting a years-long, carefully constructed, thoroughly vetted and throughly sold project, not unlike the almost two-years long project that narrowly defeated the marriage amendment. I’m also predicting the project will have to change its particulars after the SCOTUS rules. I won’t be unhappy to be wrong, and see this thing pushed through the legislature in the next session, but my pocket money says otherwise.

JML November 12, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I’m totally fine with the DFL pushing this through this session. That said, they damn well better sit down with Richard Carlbom and GOP leaders within MN United and others and get their political strategy for defending the bill after it passes and figuring out their campaign for 2 years from now first. They need to have their media strategy in hand before the bill gets out of committee so they can control the narrative. much like the anti-amendment forces did this past year. I would argue that one of the biggest reasons for success on this issue was getting out in front of this early and creating an environment where people felt increasingly better about voting no.

We know that the bigots and gay-bashers will drive in a pile of money and scream and shout about assaults on marriage and religion and families A) during a debate on the bill, and B) during the next election. Get your narrative ready first, please DFL, so we can drive a stake through the heart of this issue once and for all.

I don’t just want a bill passed. I want it passed, supported, defended, and ultimately understood as something that is a good thing for this state and its people.

One of the worst things that happened after Obama was elected and pushed through healthcare reform was not having a strategy to support it politically. There was this terrible assumption that after electing Obama, work was done. And then after getting HCR done, work was done. No, indeed. That’s half the job.

I do not want a gay marriage bill to be half the job. Let’s do it right, this session and for the rest of history.

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