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Groups on both sides of Minn. marriage amendment gearing up for heated year

With twelve months before a vote on a ballot measure that would add a ban on same-sex marriage to the Minnesota Constitution, activists on both sides of the issue are gearing up for tense campaigns. Anti-amendment forces have held a series of public fundraisers and meetings, while pro-amendment activists are engaged in low-key trainings and voter education efforts.

Opponents to the amendment seek broad, non-partisan support

Minnesotans United for All Families organized a series of house parties on Sunday that marked one year until the amendment vote.

Brian Barnes, a DFL candidate vying for the nomination to take on Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District, participated in the event.

“On Sunday, my wife and I had the great honor of hosting an event in our home for Minnesotans United,” Barnes said in a statement. “It was truly inspiring to be surrounded by so many people committed to ensuring the right of marriage is extended to all citizens—regardless of their sexual orientation. Our state has always led this country in the cause of equality and opportunity for all Americans. And that charge lives on today.”

He added, “By standing together, I’m endlessly confident we will defeat this hateful amendment and write the next great chapter in the American story—one that has always evolved toward breaking down barriers and building a fairer, more just future for our friends and neighbors.”

State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, Minneapolis City Council member Sandy Colvin Roy, and state Rep. Jim Davnie hosted an event in Minneapolis. Minnesota politicos including Tom Horner and Matt Entenza also participated.

Event organizers say more than 100 people opened their homes on Sunday for fundraisers in cities like Duluth, New Ulm, Moorhead and Winona.

Minnesotans United was also the beneficiary of another high-profile event, the Big Gay Race, held in mid-October. The event drew 1,500 participants who raised money and ran a 5K in downtown Minneapolis.

The event was organized in part by Jacob and Michelle Frey.

“My wife and I were both professional distance runners,” Jacob said at the time. “So we settled on staging a race. So that’s how the Big Gay Race came into being.” Jacob Frey is also a candidate to replace Sen. Larry Pogemiller who announced he was retiring last week.

Republicans Against the Minnesota Marriage Amendment released a statement on Sunday.

“A year from today, Minnesotans will vote on whether to ban same-sex marriages in our state constitution,” the group said. “The campaign will be hard-fought. In the next year, talk to fellow Republicans, your friends, family members, neighbors, and co-workers. Urge them to vote no. Volunteer your time to the campaign against the amendment. Dig deep into your wallet to stop this misuse of government power. We will win with principles and hard work.”

Marriage ban supporters make a religious case

Minnesota for Marriage The coalition working to pass the amendment marked one year out from the vote by releasing a video with testimonials from several attendees at the Minnesota State Fair in August.

In addition to the video, the group said it was also “calling on Minnesotans to set aside a special time this Sunday to pray for the passage of the Minnesota Marriage Protection amendment, commit to strengthening our own marriages, and then get active in the campaign!”

Late last week, the group also launched its Drive for Five campaign, which will include a $100 Visa Card contest for those who sign up five Minnesotans to get involved in promoting the amendment.

“Throughout our campaign, we intend to feature the voices of average Minnesotans who are willing to speak out about why they support marriage and are committed to preserving it by adopting the amendment,” said Minnesota for Marriage’s John Helmberger. “Our opponents have many in the media on their side, they have the cultural elite and they have billionaires in Colorado, Hollywood and on Wall Street to help them spread their message. We have the truth of marriage as understood by virtually every faith and proven throughout human history.”

Minnesota for Marriage is also conducting a series of information sessions around the state to build support for the amendment. One such meeting was held in Minneapolis in late-October.

A participant who asked not to be identified by name told the Minnesota Independent that the meeting had about 30 participants and was headed by former staffer for Rep. Michele Bachmann, Tim Gould, who is working for Minnesota for Marriage as the group’s grassroots organizer. Also heading up the meeting was Tim Hansen, the Minnesota Family Council’s church outreach director, and Cathy Deeds, who works as an outreach coordinator for the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Minnesota for Marriage told meeting participants that they were working on a massive voter identification effort as well as finding supportive churches in every legislative district.

“It’s best to center on emotions,” the meeting participant recalled of the meeting’s strategy, saying they were urged to talk about the effect same-sex marriage would have on children and to use people’s belief in the Bible to make their arguments.

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