Here’s a motto Republican leaders of the 2011 Legislature should consider given the past seven weeks:
“We legislate in 3-D — distractions, discrimination and dodges.”
Sadly, all three “Ds” best apply to the Republican-led push for voters in 2012 to decide whether the Minnesota Constitution should add an amendment that bans gay marriage — something state law already does.
The most important priority this session is for the Legislature and governor to balance the state’s budget. Republicans were well down that path until the end of March. But then has come almost two months of nothing.
The constitutional amendment banning gay marriage along with several pieces of legislation on Voter ID top the list of partisan distractions. Others, as cited by the DFL, include debates about speeding tickets, reproductive rights, limiting liability for asbestos claims and several health care coverage issues.
Given Minnesotans will face a long and divisive political campaign on the gay-marriage ban, there will be ample time to highlight the other “2-Ds” in detail.
If Minnesotans approve this amendment, the state will have a Constitution that not only makes discrimination legal, but it does so based on religious views — views, it should be noted, that are anything but universally held.
Finally, letting voters make this decision amounts to elected officials dodging their duty to protect the rights of minorities. The people should decide many, many issues. However, when an issue threatens the basic rights of minorities (remember, the state human rights act defines sexual preference as a protected class) it is the duty of elected officials to protect those rights, not let majority rule.