DFL Rep. Keith Ellison says GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann should apologize for suggesting that members of President Obama's administration have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ellison said he won't ask for a personal apology even though Bachmann said yesterday that Ellison has "a long record of being associated with CAIR [The Council on American-Islamic Relations] and with the Muslim Brotherhood." Ellison said he has no ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and said her claims have no factual basis. He said Bachmann should change course.
"Instead of doubling down and claiming to be distorted, just admit that you're wrong," Ellison said.
Ellison has criticized Bachmann and four other Republican members of the U.S. House for suggesting Secretary of State's Hillary Clinton's top aide has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. GOP House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, and others have denounced the allegations without mentioning Bachmann by name.
Through her office Bachmann declined a request for an interview.
Ellison said this isn't the first time Bachmann has made specious claims.
"She has a pattern of making allegations and then being called upon to prove them. She either switches the subject or says she didn't say that or claims to having been distorted," he said.
Ellison said he hasn't reflected on whether Bachmann should face disciplinary charges for her comments.
The other Republican members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation have been quiet about Bachmann's comments. GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen declined comment through a spokesperson. GOP Rep. John Kline and GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack could not be reached for comment.
On Election Day, Minnesotans will decide whether to change the state's constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Minnesota for Marriage is the leading organization in the state rallying support for the amendment. Regularly, it posts brief videos on its website that highlight aspects of the marriage amendment debate.
The most recent video looked at how legalizing same-sex marriage could affect Minnesota's children. In the video, host Kalley Yanta said:
"When same sex marriage was imposed by the courts in Massachusetts, for example, second-graders were taught in public schools that boys could marry other boys."
Some Massachusetts schools are teaching same-sex marriage as part of their diversity curriculum, but there's little evidence that the practice is widespread. And the defeat of the Minnesota constitutional amendment would not in and of itself legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004. And while the law didn't change rules about what should be taught in schools, Massachusetts schools have been the subject of multiple ads, including this spot that aired in California when voters there were deciding in 2008 whether to legalize same-sex marriage.
It is possible similar ads will be broadcast on Minnesota's airwaves this fall.
To support Minnesota for Marriage's statement, spokesman Chuck Darrell pointed to a 2006 federal lawsuit brought by two couples against employees of the Lexington, Mass., school district. The parents contended teachers provided or read books to their children that featured same-sex couples, and that such teachings went against their religion.
The suit was dismissed because parents don't have a constitutional right to dictate what is taught in a public school, said the judge's decision. The plaintiffs appealed the decision in the U.S. Appeals Court of Massachusetts, but lost.
Teaching same-sex marriage is allowed in Massachusetts schools.
Since 1993, Massachusetts law has required the Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education to develop curriculum standards meant to foster respect for gender, cultural, and racial diversity.
As a result, the state's education department has developed curriculum framework that, in part, encourages schools to teach students through fifth grade about different types of families and the concepts of prejudice and discrimination. And 5th grade students, for instance, should be able to define sexual orientation using the proper terminology, according to the framework.
But education department spokesman Jonathan Considine stresses that the state does not dictate specific lessons or books taught in Massachusetts' schools, nor is there a statewide mandate that schools teach about either same-sex or opposite-sex marriage.
Rather, curriculum decisions are made by the districts and the individual schools, and some schools have incorporated same-sex marriage into their lessons, Considine said.
The Lexington Public School District is an example. District superintendent Paul Ash said that prior to the 2006 lawsuit, books that featured same-sex couples were read in school because the district was committed to creating an inclusive environment for all children.
"It wasn't just about gays," Ash said. "It was ethnic diversity, racial diversity. The core value of this district is that we want our curriculum to reflect the way our community looks."
Today, the district has an entire curriculum around diversity that includes talking about same-sex marriage. But Ash said Lexington, a liberal town in a relatively liberal state, is in the minority. He points out that no other legal complaints have been filed since 2006.
"It's a non-issue," Ash said.
Kris Mineau, the president Massachusetts Family Institute, a group that opposes same-sex marriage, says that same-sex marriage is being taught widely in Massachusetts' public schools.
"All the school libraries have materials promoting same-sex marriage and homosexuality, and all the teachers are given full latitude based on their personal orientations to discuss it with their students," Mineau said.
Mineau couldn't say exactly how many schools are teaching same-sex marriage, but sent a list of 14 examples. However, the list doesn't demonstrate a regular, formal same-sex marriage curriculum; four examples refer to the 2006 court case and four are based on anecdotal evidence.
Finally, there's a fundamental difference between same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and the amendment Minnesota voters are considering: if the Minnesota marriage amendment is defeated, same-sex marriage will still be illegal in the state. And approving or defeating the amendment has no bearing on what's taught in Minnesota schools.
It's true that some Massachusetts schools are teaching kids about same-sex marriage in lessons about diversity. The Lexington School District is among them, though it did not start those lessons because the decision to legalize same-sex marriage required it as Minnesota for Marriage's statement implies.
But there's no evidence that same-sex marriage is taught throughout Massachusetts, and the state doesn't require such curriculum.
Further, though Minnesota for Marriage points out that same-sex marriage could be taught in schools if the practice is legalized, that's not what Minnesota is debating right now. Voters are choosing to define marriage in the state's constitution. If the amendment is defeated, the state's ban on same-sex marriage - or what's taught in schools - will not automatically change.
Minnesota for Marriage's claim is misleading.
Minnesota for Marriage, Marriage Minute: "What kind of issues would children face if marriage is redefined?" July 17th, 2012
Baptist Press, Massachusetts 2nd-grade teacher reads class 'gay marriage' book; administrator backs her, by Michael Frost, April 20, 2006
MassResistance, Children's book portraying homosexual romance and marriage -- read to second-grade class by teacher, accessed July 20, 2012
MassResistance, PARENTS OUTRAGED: Second-grade teacher (in David Parker's school!) reads "modern fairy tale" to class on homosexual romance and marriage!, accessed July 20, 2012
David Parker et al. vs. William Hurley et al., Memorandum and Order, , February 23, 2007
List of same-sex marriage teaching examples in Massachusetts provided by the Massachusetts Family Institute, July 19, 2012
Chuck Darrell, spokesman, Minnesota for Marriage, July 19, 2012
Kris Mineau, president Massachusetts Family Institute, July 19, 2012
Laura Barrett, spokeswoman, Massachusetts Teachers Association, July 19, 2012
Dr. Paul Ash, superintendent, Lexington Public Schools, July 20, 2012
Jonathan Considine, spokesman, Massachusetts Department of Education, July 19, 2012(3 Comments)
Senate Republicans are taking aim at Minnesota's chief election official, with allegations that DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has unlawfully campaigned against the proposed voter ID constitutional amendment.
During a hearing of the state government committee today, several GOP lawmakers suggested that Ritchie had overstepped his authority and may have violated campaign finance laws by criticizing the amendment during public appearances.
Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, a chief author of the amendment, said he thinks Ritchie should implement the law, and nothing more.
"I do not believe that it is within his responsibility as a constitutionally elected officer to travel around the state and be a proponent or opponent of legislation that we pass," Newman said.
Ritchie did not attend the hearing. But during a recent MPR News interview, he insisted that he is not telling people how to vote on the issue.
Several Democrats on the panel defended the Secretary of State. Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, said Ritchie not only has the right, but the responsibility to respond to questions and offer his opinion on proposed policy changes.
"There's the ministerial duty for putting it on the ballot, and that's going to be done," Wiger said. "Voters will decide soon enough, and most have decided. I think this is more of a politically-charged atmosphere, which most people don't appreciate."
The chair of the committee, Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, said he's ready to launch an investigation and possibly file a lawsuit against Ritchie. Parry, who's a candidate for Congress in the 1st District, said he thinks Ritchie has made false statements about the ballot question.