Minnesota’s DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in a symbolic gesture yesterday vetoed a constitutional amendment passed earlier this month by the Republican-led Legislature that would ask voters in a 2012 referendum to codify an existing statutory ban on same-sex marriage and therein write discrimination into the state’s constitution.
Under legislative rules Dayton, who has vowed to fight the ban with “every fiber” of his being, cannot veto the amendment so it will go before voters regardless of this action. Yet, because the amendment was sent to him, rather anomalously, as a bill he must either sign or veto it – even though it will have no effect.
However, as one will see in the press conference video below, Dayton is very clear that this act is not meant as empty words but to openly declare his disdain that the GOP majority pushed through this amendment despite warnings of the “derisive” and “destructive” debate it will provoke at a time when Minnesotans should be rallying together.
In the video Dayton reads from a letter he sent to the Senate president and makes mention that there is to him a clear founding principal that should allow people the freedom to marry the consenting partner of their choice.
Dayton is joined in the video below by Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner-Salon, openly gay Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) and openly lesbian Representative Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis), all of whom have said they will actively campaign against the amendment.
The first ten minutes are statements from Dayton and lawmakers, while the latter half is a question and answer session with journalists in which Dayton says he is confident that Minnesotans will reject the amendment, that “they are better than that.” He also fields questions on budget issues and other legislation he will be acting on in the next few days.
A recent poll suggests that 55% of Minnesotans surveyed do not want to enact a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. This is a change on a 2004 Minnesota Poll that found 58% of Minnesotans supported a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
It should also be noted that a significant number of the public identifying as either Republican or Independent have come out against the amendment, saying they find the constitutional amendment unnecessary given the existing ban, or that they believe codifying the ban amounts to an abridgment of liberty. Read more here.