Gays Turned The Legislature In 2010
[ The legislators who continue to refuse to take meaningful action on marriage equality talk about "next year, next year," as if there were a DFL governor and DFL-controlled legislature already in existence, just sitting out there in 2011 waiting for us all to catch up to it. Well, nobody knows what will happen in the November election. We could certainly lose control of the legislature...it does happen, and 20 years without a DFL governor is a lot of history to overcome. We mustn't waste our current opportunities to make real progress on marriage equality by deferring to an imagined future DFL utopia. With current 2 to 1 DFL majorities in both houses, we need a floor vote on marriage equality THIS YEAR.
And, this imagined utopia we're supposed to defer to may not live up to its billing, anyway. Because Pawlenty has lowered the bar to such depths (on everything), a DFL governor could get away with doing practically nothing for gays and still seem like an improvement...and that is exactly what he or she would do. Look at what's happened, or rather NOT happened at the federal level with ENDA, DOMA, DADT...nothing. Marriage equality??? Don't count on that being a priority for the next governor no matter what party they're from. It is IMPERATIVE that we pull out all the stops for progress on marriage equality, right now in 2010, and get as far as we can while we still have a favorably configured legislature.
For the remainder of this session, until the final gavel falls, I will be pressing for a floor vote on marriage equality in both houses of the legislature because I believe, with leadership, the votes are there for passage.
One thing is certain, and that is that only you can make this happen. Please visit or call your legislators and let them know that you don't need rosy prognostications and promises of future action from them that only serve as an excuse for doing nothing in the present. Tell them
you expect real action from them, right now, in passing marriage equality legislation, this session! - Doug ]
I did everything I could think of up to the last day of the 2010 session to convince the DFL leadership to act on marriage equality before the opportunity passed, including presenting Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Senator Majority Leader, Larry Pogemiller with hundreds of petition signatures urging them to act before the session ended. They refused. Margaret, later lost her bid for governor, in the primary
When calling and writing and protesting don't bring the desired effect on those in power, an election becomes a blunt instrument. For gays, this past election became their weapon of choice against a DFL that failed to produce a SINGLE VOTE on marriage equality when it had control of the legislature for the last 4 years and 2 to 1 majorities in both houses of the legislature, for an entire biennium. When public office holders drag their feet, make lame excuses and outright obstruct efforts to recognize our long-awaited freedoms, as voters, we are left with few choices. One choice is to continue putting the same betrayers of our trust back in office and hope they will change, or we can throw them under the bus the way they have repeatedly thrown us under the bus and face the consequences. This year, gay voters in Minnesota chose the latter.
From the beginning, Marriage Equality Minnesota has told it's now 9000 plus facebook members the way it really is at the legislature. There's been no whitewashing to score meaningless pats on the head. We told of the slow-walking of our bill, the duplicity of House and
Senate leadership, behind the scenes obstructions, insistance on information-only hearings when the bill would have easily passed a vote. Nationally, a third of gays, demoralized over a lack of action on gay rights, voted Republican, up from 19% in 2008. Control of our legislature was lost by only 600 votes. The DFL "carefulled" themselves right out of power.
Senator Jim Carlson, who refused to sign on to the Marriage and Family Protection Act when it was introduced a second time in 2009, told me, "I have to be careful. I have an election coming up in two years." He lost his seat, anyway. I guess he was a little too careful. Not one senator who signed onto our bill, lost their seat.
On the House side, Rep. Dave Olin, DFL co-sponsor of the ANTI-GAY MARRIAGE AMENDMENT, lost his bid for reelection by nearly 20 percentage points. If distancing yourself from gays is the key to being reelected, how anti-gay do you have to get? Good riddance to this gay-hating asshat.
DFL Rep. Tim Faust refused to sign on to our bill, saying it would be his last act as a rep. because if he did sign on, he would never get reelected. He told me at Pine City Pride this year that he'd sign on if a DFL governor was elected. Well, maybe if Tim had signed on last year he would have gotten that opportunity, but he lost his election.
One major obstacle to getting a full committee hearing in the House
was that the comittee chair wanted to "protect" a first term DFL
member of the Civil Justice Committee, Rep. Gail Kulick Jackson, from
having to vote on marriage equality, because she would be a yes vote
and he feared that that would doom her reelection. Well, she lost
anyway, without ever getting to make that vote. If she had been given
the opportunity to vote for equality, she might still be in office.
Perhaps if the former Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, Sen. Moua had
had her way as expressed at a meeting in early 2009, wanting a very
brief committee hearing with a vote and then a floor vote, the DFL
might still hold the senate. And, if the behind the scenes message
from the House leadership to committee chairs in 2009 hadn't been "no
gay marriage bills this session," then, there may have been real
progress on marriage equality and the House might still be in DFL hands.
If courage and a genuine interest in fighting for marriage equality
had been displayed by DFL leadership in the last two years, gays
would have been compelled to flood to the polls in support of DFL
candidates and that 2011 DFL utopia might actually be our current
reality instead of the Republican hell we all now face.
The Senate and House DFL caucuses have had the good sense to replace
their leadership with new blood. Let's hope they have the courage to
champion the cause of equality, bring the gay votes back, and make the Republican reign a brief one.