July 2, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Today’s Bangor Daily News has an article about the anti-marriage equality campaign in Minnesota reporting that conservative advocates in that state are planning a more aggressive push than they have in the past, partially because their chances of success are starting to look more tenuous. Minnesota law does not allow for marriage equality, but supporters of the marriage amendment argue that it is necessary to stop future judges or legislatures from changing that law. And, of course, they don’t want Minnesota to become the first state to break the streak of wins for marriage equality opponents.
Things on the ground in Minnesota, however, aren’t quite going conservatives’ way. Recently, Minnesota-based General Mills came out against the marriage amendment as unfair and discriminatory, and while Minnesota for Marriage made the accusation that “the Green Giant, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Kix and Trix have all declared war on Marriage” and called for a boycott of the company, that call has so far garnered little success. General Mills has said publicly that the boycott has not hurt their business, drawing only 12,000 signatures nationwide. An equal number signed an online petition thanking the company for speaking out.
Supporters of marriage equality have also been running a well-organized and deeply financed campaign, one that has significantly outraised opponents of equal marriage rights and secured the support of important public figures like Gov. Mark Dayton and the CEO of General Mills, as well as some religious leaders.
Just as importantly, the religious coalition that has often spoken out against marriage equality during state battles in the past has shown signs of fraying in Minnesota. Although John Nienstedt, the Twin Cities Roman Catholic Archbishop, has warned clergy that there should be no “open dissension” regarding support of the marriage amendment, a group of 80 former Catholic priests from across the state released a statement opposing it in May.
As in other states, it would be unwise and premature to say that Minnesota is particularly favorable ground for marriage equality supporters in November. But the Bangor Daily News article demonstrates just how much the marriage debate is shifting. Even though we still face difficulties at the ballot box, we are seeing more and more support shifting to our side amongst groups that have historically been opposed to equal marriage rights. If 2012 is the year the tide breaks for us, that will be a thrilling victory. If not, we are still on the way to succeeding down the road.