Minnesota Republicans are aiming to put issues on the ballot in 2012 election, among them a constitutional amendment that would define marriage in Minnesota as only between a man and a woman.
"I know that 78 percent...of the people in Minnesota want this decision to be given to them on a ballot," said bill sponsor Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, during an April 26, 2011, press conference.
Limmer's numbers are coming from one poll commissioned by groups that support a statewide vote on the issue.
The Senate has approved the amendment, and the House is expected to. Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Minnesota, but Limmer and other supporters of the bill say that changing the state constitution is necessary to prevent the law from being overturned.
One recent poll backs Limmer's contention that a broad majority of the public wants the issue on the ballot, about 74 percent of Minnesota voters. (Limmer's spokeswoman Susan Closmore said that he incorporated the 4 percentage point margin of error when making the statement.)
But it's important to highlight where those numbers are coming from. The poll, which surveyed about 600 Minnesota voters Jan. 10-13, 2011, was commissioned by the Minnesota Family Council and the National Organization for Marriage, two organizations that support the amendment.
Furthermore, the company hired to conduct the poll, Lawrence Research, is operated by pollster Gary Lawrence, who, according to news reports in the Minnesota Independent and the Washington Post, organized
members of the Mormon Church Mormons in support of Proposition 8, an amendment to the California Constitution that prevents gay marriage from being recognized by the state. Lawrence did not return calls to provide more details on his polling results.
So, Limmer is basing his claim on one poll commissioned by organizations that support putting a marriage amendment to a vote.
There's little current information for comparison, but polls done in 2009 and 2010 provide some context:
• A 2009 KSTP/SurveyUSA poll found that only 52 percent of Minnesotans would support a statewide vote to ban gay marriage.
• A 2010 Minnesota Public Radio News/Humphrey School of Public Affairs poll showed that 49 percent of Minnesotans oppose same-sex marriage.
• A 2009 Star Tribune poll found that a third of Minnesotans would support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages.
Limmer's claim is rooted in a survey commissioned by two groups that have a stake in the debate over same-sex marriages. Because there are no other current polls to compare Limmer's numbers to, this PoliGraph test rates an inconclusive.
TheUptake, Constitutional Amendment Defining Marriage Press Conferences, April 26, 2011
The Minnesota Family Council, Let the people vote on marriage!, by Chuck Darrell, April 14, 2011
The Star Tribune, Minnesota Poll: A Subtle shift on gay unions, by Mark Brunswick, May 1, 2009
Minnesota Public Radio News, Poll shows slight shift in gay marriage opinions, by Tim Pugmire, Sept. 28, 2006
Results of KSTP/SurveyUSA Poll, May 11, 2009
Minnesota Public Radio News, MPR-Humphrey Poll: Obama could struggle in MN in 2012, by Mark Zdechlik, Sept. 30, 2010
Smart Politics, How Supportive Are Minnesotans of Gay Rights?, by Eric Ostermeier, Oct. 11, 2009
The Humphrey School
Please understand that there is no "Mormon" church it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the LDS church. Please visit the Church's newsroom for more information on this. The people of the LDS Church are often called "Mormons" but please be considerate on this point, regardless of where you stand on the same-sex marriage debate let's call things by their proper and preferred names and not demonize anyone who opposes your view point.
Rep. Limmer seems to be one who will not allow facts to get in the way of pushing his own strong beliefs on this issue. He is not alone, however, as researchers at Yale shows that deep seated views of morality and how society should be ordered strongly predict who they consider to be 'experts' or reliable sources of information.
This certainly provides an explanation of the WWI "trench warfare" atmosphere in our political institutions over the last few decades.
Is there any other solution than to put a question like this to the electorate and end this nonsense in our Legislature?
The new Star Tribune poll out yesterday bodes ill for Limmer's claim: 55% oppose the amendment, and 39% support it.
We Minnesotans want the GOP (and Dayton) to focus on jobs, the economy, and balancing the budget. We DO NOT want to waste millions of dollars and infest every household with scads of TV ads and mailboxes full of mailers in a divisive social policy fight.
Limmer and his gang have misread the last election: it was about JOBS. Not guns. Not Gays. Not phony voter fraud claims.
Get to work, GOP. Pass your budget bills and negotiate with Dayton. It's what you're there for.
If you fail to do the people's real business, you'll be voted out next year along with your misguided marriage amendment.