I have a quick question for the Twin Cities’ leftyblog buildup.
Since gay marriage has emerged, at least for the DFL, as the most important issue in the gubernatorial election – at least as re the perceived record of the GOP’s candidate – I think it’s only fair to ask “why has the DFL been such an utter waste of time when it comes to passing gay marriage?” If there really is an outcry for gay marriage, then why didn’t the DFL-controlled legislature use their four years of absolute legislative hegemony to push the issue?
Because if there genuinely is popular support for a measure then there is no such thing as a “wasted vote”.
Here’s how it works; Representative A (DFL – Spike Lake) brings up a gay marriage bill. Representative B (GOP – Mud Lake) bottles it up in committee and it dies. DFL candidate C runs for Represenative B’s job, and uses the vote to stir up popular anger at Mr. B, who is turned out of office by the voters who are demanding gay marriage.
In the next session, Representative A and C and fifty other DFLers (and GOPers, scared by the demise of Representative B) pass the bill through the House , and send it to the Senate. There, Senator D (GOP – Ham Prairie) bottles the bill up in committee. That fall, GOP candidate E runs against Senator D in the primary, capitalizing on the growing grass-roots realization that gay marriage is what the people want, and gets the endorsement, and wins the vote in Ham Prairie, a reliably GOP district that, like all Minnesotans, really do support gay marriage.
The next session, the House and Senate both pass gay marriage bills. They are carried to Governor F. Ms. F vetoes the bill. In the following gubernatorial election, the popular support for gay marriage sends Governor F. packing; pro-gay marriage former state insurance commissioner G is elected governor. And in his first session, when presented with a gay marriage bill, he signs it, just as he promised in the keynote to his winning campaign.
Is the example above a fanciful hypothetical? Yes and no. It was, more or less, how “Concealed Carry” was passed in Minnesota. Pat Pariseau and Linda Boudreaux proposed “Shall Issue” legislation for four or five different sessions (if I remember correctly, and I may well not) before the votes were there to get the victory in 2003. It wasn’t because they thought they could win every single time – in 1997, they certainly could not. It was because they knew they wanted the issue in front of the legislature, because the process surrounding the debate would eventually win legislators over (and see to the electoral firing of legislators who opposed the popular measure). And this was in a Legislature that was not controlled by Republicans, much less conservatives.
The MNGOP’s gubernatorial candidate opposes gay marriage. So, by the way, do most Americans, in one form or another; while many support civil unions (myself included), Gay Marriage proposals keep losing in referendum after referendum.
“Why waste the votes?”, one DFL wag asked me when I brought it up once.
I dunno – because if you believe in the rightness of your cause, that’s what you do; if you believe in the democratic process and you believe that the people really do support your cause, then there is no such thing as a “wasted vote”.
The DFL knows this, because while they are fine using gay marriage as a cudgel against conservative politicians to fire up, or shore up, their base, they have spent their last four years of absolute hegemony in the Legislature pushing exactly zero gay marriage legislation to Governor Pawlenty.
“Shall issue” handgun laws survived and grew during at least seven consecutive legislative tests against nominally hostile legislatures. Why doesn’t gay marriage get even one test in a relentlessly friendly legisature?