Last-minute push in battle over marriage questionby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
MINNEAPOLIS — The tight race for the proposed state constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and woman kicked into even higher gear over the weekend as the campaigns for and against the proposal started their final sprint to Election Day.
The campaign against the same-sex marriage ban is led by Minnesotans United for All Families. And at the group's downtown Minneapolis office this weekend, campaign manager Richard Carlbom praised volunteers -- and urged them to work harder, too.
"We have to fill 17,000 volunteer shifts before Election Day, and we're well on our way," he said. "That will make us the largest campaign in Minnesota history, and you're a part of that. We have the ability to make this happen, and it's because of you. Thank you so much. Let's go beat this thing."
"I had meetings all morning," Carlbom said before greeting the volunteers. "Just some last final meetings with board members and our operations committee, our budget committee, to really understand where we're at financially."
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Carlbom strongly believes the amendment conflates religion and politics and is unfair and discriminatory. He said there are many ways to make that argument.
"I'm spending a lot of time fielding and trying to think up creative ways of getting more and more people to vote no," he said. "This is an incredibly close election. And so we are not going to let up on either front. We are going to work hard, night and day, to convince the last few voters who haven't made up their mind yet to vote no."
In the pro-amendment Minnesota for Marriage headquarters in St. Anthony Park, statewide political director Crystal Crocker said grace over an impromptu buffet of Mexican take-out Sunday for phone bank volunteers.
Phone banks are the centerpiece of the pro-amendment side's campaign -- an army of volunteers calling identified supporters again and again, reminding them to go to the polls. And Crocker's job is to keep them running.
The biggest problem for her this weekend was the phone supply: They were running low. So Crocker's next stop was campaign spokesman Andy Parrish's small, windowless office.
"I need phones, like, pronto," she joked. "You can't finish your burrito. Get me 20 phones now! I don't want people standing around."
When a new group of volunteers arrived, Crocker explained the phone bank process:
"These are identified as our 'yes' voters," she said. "There are a few that might have changed their mind, or if they say no, just say thank you very much and hang up because we want to call our yes voters and get them out to the polls."
Later, Crocker had a little downtime in her office.
"Our message is about the public purpose for marriage and with children," she said. "Certainly we all have our own moral and religious reasons we're here, but our main reason is for children that need a mom and a dad and for the public purpose for marriage -- it's a foundational institution that brings a mom and a dad together for the children."
Crocker, a former businesswoman, said her four children gave her permission to devote herself to the campaign. She and another have traveled all over the state, recruiting marriage committees and parish captains, training them, and then helping them mobilize.
She stepped in as the campaign's statewide political director in early September.
"We feel called to be involved," Crocker said. "Whether it's an eye of an organized storm or riding a wild ride here towards the end, I think it's all going to come out for us in the end here on Election Day."
Like Crocker, Carlbom, the campaign manager at Minnesota United for All Families, passionately believes his side will win.
On Tuesday, voters will make the final decision.
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- Morning Edition, 11/05/2012, 6:50 a.m.