A blog to keep current on MPIRG'S fight for social and environmental justice.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

They Would do WHAT!? Breaking Down the Amendments

In November 2012, Minnesota’s voters will decide the fate of not one, but two new constitutional amendments. If passed, the marriage amendment would define marriage as only between one man and one woman, and the Voter ID (also known as voter restriction) amendment would require every Minnesota resident to show a government issued ID with current address at their polling location to be able to cast a ballot. If passed, the constitution will be amended, and it will be very difficult - nearly impossible - to reverse.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

The Marriage Amendment
Under the Minnesota Statute 517.3, same-sex marriage is prohibited. By passing an amendment, the constitution will only enforce that statute. If the amendment does not pass, same-sex marriage will still be illegal.

When people discuss the issue of same-sex marriage, it often comes down to a discussion of rights. It’s common for heterosexual couples to assume that same-sex couples only want to marry for the “rights” involved. While it is true that same-sex couples would enjoy additional rights once married, that is not the point. 

When someone says, “Will you marry me?” they really mean, “I’m ready to commit my whole being to you... because I love you. You’re the one I want to be with regardless of what your gender is.”

“Will you marry me?” does not mean, “hey, can I get your health insurance, money, tax breaks, and all the rights that come along by marrying you?”

Same-sex couples get married for similar reasons opposite-sex couples get married. The meanings to civil union or domestic partnership cannot even be compared to what marriage is all about. Same-sex marriage has never been legal in our state, and putting this in the constitution is going too far.

The Voter ID (aka Voter Restriction) Amendment
Under the Minnesota Statute 201.061, Subdivision 3, we are presented with a list of different forms of ID and proof of residence we can provide on or before registration day. If we put them in categories/options there are basically three.

Option 1: Bring one of the following (must have a current address):
A MN driver’s license or permit, a MN ID card, a receipt of any of these, a valid student ID w/ your photo, a tribal ID card w/ your photo.

Option 2: Bring both 1) a photo ID (MN driver’s license, MN ID card, US Passport, US Military ID card, Tribal ID card, MN college/university ID). AND 2) a utility bill to your current address, a rent statement dated w/in 30 days of election day that itemizes utilities.

Option 3: Bring a “voucher,” a registered voter who will affirm where you live. 

If the Voter ID amendment passed, Options 2 and 3 would be eliminated and we don't yet know what cards in option 1 would be valid. Many residents would be affected by this decision. College students, minorities, low-income, migrants, and pretty much every single MN resident would be affected by this amendment in some way or another. So, I’m asking you to vote NO on this amendment as well.

Why I will vote NO
First, I am part of the LGBTQIA community. I do plan on marrying my current girlfriend someday. It would be a shame if when that day came the law said I couldn’t marry her. I do believe that true love between two people disregards gender, sexuality and everything else you can think of. 

Second, I am politically active. I like to vote. I’m a broke college student, and member of different minorities. I wouldn't like to pay $25+ for a MN ID, and pay even more to gain an updated ID every time I move. I would prefer to have multiple options. Cheap and easy options. Accessible options.

Third, I am an active member of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG).

MPIRG started the Vote NOvember 6 Campaign to educate our seven campuses and community members about both ballot questions. MPIRG encourages all eligible voters in Minnesota to vote “NO” on these amendments.

Veronica Sampedro, Hamline University MPIRG Member

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