Messaging And The Marriage Ban

One year year from yesterday, Minnesota voters will decide whether to amend the Minnesota Constitution to ban thousands of current and future Minnesotans from getting married. If 29 other states are predictive, the odds are the marriage ban will be successful in the land of “Minnesota Nice” as well.

I attended a house party yesterday to raise money and hackles to defeat the amendment. It was at the home of friends who are better spouses and parents than I could ever hope to be. Trust me, self-appointed Family Defenders, my friends are your greatest allies in your mission to strengthen the institution of family, not your enemies. Family Defenders should be begging people like my friends to join the club.

Anyway, a communications pro for a group opposing the marriage ban spoke at the event about how to talk to our friends, family and neighbors about the issue. Based on message research from the Troglodyte 29, she advised not to lead the conversation by arguing about equalizing the financial benefits of marriage. According to the research, the idea that people in a committed relationship should receive equal health and pension benefits regardless of the gender of their partner has not been sufficiently compelling to the heterosexual masses who take such benefits for granted.

So rather than going all HR on your friends, they recommend an American values argument. Equality. Fairness. Justice. Civil rights. The notion that all Americans who love each other should have the freedom to marry.

That seems like it should be an easy argument to sell. After all, I know my patriotic friends have perfect recall of the “under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance. Given that, there’s a fighting chance they also might remember there are six subsequent words that speak to this issue. “…with liberty and justice for all.” “All,” which the dictionary says means “every,” “all kinds,” “all sorts.”

I feel silly stating the obvious here, but banning any Americans from marrying isn’t exactly consistent with our collective “liberty and justice for all” American value. Sometime in the not too near future, Americans are going to look back on these marriage ban amendments and be embarassed that something like this could happen in America, just as contemporary Americans are embarassed when they look back on Jim Crow laws.

With the polls showing Americans steadily moving toward support of gay marriage, and younger people especially supportive, it is only a matter of time before these embarassingly un-American marriage ban amendments start failing at the ballot box. How cool would it be if the tipping point was in Minnesota in 2012?

– Loveland

8 thoughts on “Messaging And The Marriage Ban

  1. john sherman says:

    For people of my age, “under God” wasn’t in the pledge for most of our school career, and oddly enough, the “greatest generation” managed to achieve greatness without God in the pledge. I notice the Republicans in the House managed to defend us against some not apparent threat to “one nation under God,” which they decided was more important than creating any sort of legislation that would actually help the country.

    My boring take on the subject is that if gays pay taxes, serve on juries and incur all the other costs of civic life, they ought to also get the benefits. I would like opponents of gay marriage to calculate how much the benefit of being able to enter into a state recognized union means to them, and then recommend deducting an appropriate percentage from the tax bill of gays.

  2. Joe Loveland says:

    It looks like it could be close in MN. Today’s Strib poll shows 48% support the ban, and 43% oppose, with a 4% margin of error.

    The most enthusiastic banners are 65+ years olds (70%), Republicans (66%), no college (60%), non-metro (59%), and under $30K/year (56%).

    The most enthusiastic pro-gay marriage groups are Democrats (60%), college grads (59%), 18-34 year olds (58%), and $75k/year (55%).

    1. john sherman says:

      A major reason for the age differential is that while everyone knows gays, the young realize it and old often don’t. Nothing removes the objections to gay couples like knowing some.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        Good point, John. Strangers are seen as deviant. Friends are seen as loving. And there are fewer openly gay people in older generations.

  3. Minnesotan says:

    In my quest for understanding, I try to comprehend the viewpoint of someone that is for the ban. Yet I can’t for the life of me come up with any reasons that aren’t prejudiced or conflict with our country’s core principle of the separation of Church and State.

    This won’t be an issue 10-15 years from now, so they better hurry up an pass that ban while all the old fuddy duddies who think allowing gay people to marry will be the end of civilization are still alive.

  4. Mrs. Fay says:

    If you haven’t had a chance to see “Question One, The Movie” yet, I suggest you do. It’s an instructive inside look at each side of the issue from the campaign that successfully repealed Maine’s same sex marrige law. This fight seems to bring out the really nastys, good luck to you. I sure hope Minnesota is more progressive than Maine.

Comments are closed.