Conflict over the marriage amendment is a local story playing out in every community across the state. In partnership with KARE11, MPR News took a road trip through greater Minnesota to take the pulse of this issue in several cities. KARE 11 Marriage Debate coverage and videos
The marriage debate has spilled onto T-shirts at Concordia College. One student who believes homosexuality is against God has stirred up controversy by printing "sin is sin" T-shirts to counter the prevailing view on campus that "love is love."
The birthplace of Judy Garland, an icon in the gay community, is also a hotbed in the marriage debate. Catholic and conservative churches are leading the effort to pass the amendment, while a small but visible gay community tries to persuade voters that their neighbors will be hurt by it.
The issue of who should be able to marry divides families, churches, towns and political parties. That's evident on the Range, a socially conservative DFL stronghold where both sides hope to win – and where feelings about the amendment run deep.
Southwestern Minnesota is likely to be strong territory for amendment supporters. DFL lawmaker Lyle Koenen was one of three Democrats to break with his party and vote to put the amendment on the ballot. Locals say people here prefer to keep their political opinions close to the vest. Opinions run deep, and people are divided.
Deep Catholic roots are influencing the conversation in St. Cloud, but they are by no means dominating it. Amendment opponents report it's also the place with the highest rate of "moved voters," making this a volatile area.
State Rep. Tim Kelly was one of four Republicans to break with his party and vote against putting the amendment on the ballot. A vocal and well-organized chapter of a gay rights organization is leading opposition to the amendment in Red Wing, while supporters have largely held conversations in homes to talk about the issue privately.