Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Our State Constitution is Safe

In Minnesota, two big election victories stand out above many big wins and they put a smile on my face this morning.
by Charlie Leck

Put on your happy face!

The Constitution of the State of Minnesota shall not be amended!
Period! I am extremely pleased this morning that two constitutional amendment referendum items were refused by the voters of the state. Neither would have had any business at all within the language of the constitution and the voters were smart to reject them. Hooray for the voters!

The Marriage Amendment
Minnesota became the very first state in the union to reject a constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between one man and one woman. It makes me very proud of my state. Marriage between anyone but a man and a woman is still illegal in the state, but it is not prohibited by the constitution – only by a state statute that can be removed and may well be after the manner in which the citizens of the state spoke last night.

The primary organization leading the fight against the amendment to the constitution was Minnesotans United for All Families. Its director, Richard Carlbom, spoke at a gathering last night when the results of the election became obvious:

“This is truly a historic night. Minnesota is now the first state in our country that has faced this question and said, ‘No!’”

In Maine and Maryland last night, voters approved the right of same-sex partners to marry. That fact gives Minnesotans great hope that they can get their own law withdrawn and changed.

The Voter I.D. Amendment
The other constitutional amendment resolution on the ballot yesterday had to do with a requirement that photo identification would be necessary in order to vote. To my pleasure, it was also defeated.* The amendment was widely seen as unnecessary in a state with consistently high turnouts for elections and a minuscule number of reports of voter fraud.

Again, such an amendment would have required inserting language within the constitution that has no business being there. It’s proper place is within the state statutes where legislators themselves would have to take responsibility for putting it there.

Within the last month, one Republican Party insider has admitted that the amendments were placed on the state ballot in order to drive a higher than usual conservative turnout at polling places all over the state. The strategy clearly did not work.

There’s a lot to be pleased about this morning, but nothing pleases me more than the results in these two constitutional amendment votes.

Democrats will control the State Legislature
The Democratic Party won control of both houses of the state legislature last night. This will give our governor a freer hand to move the state along toward solving many of its problems. For instance, look for higher taxes on those who make more than 350 thousand dollars a year. Congratulations to both WIN Minnesota and the Alliance for a Better Minnesota for driving the campaign to regain the legislature. Look, too, for the legislature to repeal the law prohibiting same-sex marriage!

Big Turnout in Minnesota
As an aside, I’m proud to also mention that Minnesota will probably lead the nation again this time for the number (or percentage) of its registered voters who actually turned-out to vote. Good going, Minnesota.

*with 95 percent of the vote counted

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