Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taxes, gay "marriage", comp sex ed, abortion funding, medical marijuana, etc. all up in the air after election.

It's only starting to sink in how big a shift this election was in terms of make up of the Minnesota state legislature and its orientation on social and family issues. If Dayton wins and we have a DFL governor and a legislature controlled by Republicans, we'll continue to see gridlock on many issues. The governor has a lot of power to control what ultimately gets passed into law. (DFLers in the legislature know this only too well despite having overwhelming majorities in both Houses the past 4 years.)

But the governor doesn't have the power to pass things. And that's what is key from our standpoint. Many of the issues we're concerned about were in danger of getting passed into law with a DFL-controlled legislature and liberal governor. Now with the seismic shift in the political center of the legislature, the governor isn't even necessary to stop things.

Take for instance, gay "marriage". Whereas its proponents were looking to pass it in 2011 if the DFL controlled both Houses and the governor's office, now there's no chance it could even get close to passage in either the state House or Senate. The same is true with many other social issues. The political center has shifted dramatically in the legislature. The state Senate in the past session was often for a particular social issue by a 10 to 15 margin. That's now flipped. In the House, there's probably a 20 vote shift on many issues.

Remarkably, the Senate is now more conservative than the state House, which has never been the case in the 22 years I've been around the legislature. I'm sure liberals in the Senate will be gunning to recapture control in 2012, but I think that's going to be tough though certainly not impossible. I wonder if many incumbent DFL senators won't run again. They're at the age where they were thinking about retiring anyway and being in the minority for even two years will only give them added impetus to step aside. Will they want to take the risk of running for re-election, not capturing the majority, and being stuck in the minority for another four years, not just two years.

With President Obama in the White House and possibly a liberal, DFL governor in St. Paul, I don't think the public will be in a mood to do a reverse political tsunami in 2012. It maybe status quo at the legislative or even some conservative pick-ups which means Republicans will keep control of the state Senate and maybe gain a seat or two. Similar in the House.

There is also an interesting dynamic at play with a possible liberal governor and conservative legislature which is different from the reverse scenario in play while Pawlenty was governor. Liberals want to pass things and raise taxes but they can't, even with the governorship, if the legislature doesn't want to pass those things. That's different from the previous scenario where the conservative governor acted as a goalie and stopped liberal initiatives. This is a recipe for gridlock and gridlock is preferable to lots new spending and programs.

The current scenario clearly opens the door for a marriage amendment, something which the public supports and pro-marriage supporters are much more passionate about than gay "marriage" supporters. That's what our polling done in 2005 and this past summer showed us.


Herb said...

Staff Finds DVD unsubstantiated

The Catholic Church has been a long-standing opponent of gay marriage both in civil law and the Church itself. In keeping with this teaching, Archbishop Nienstedt produced and mailed a DVD in which he explicitly endorses an amendment to our state constitution that would bar homosexuals from the right to marry under civil law.

We as a staff believe the Church has both the right to have a teaching on this issue and to deny homosexuals the right to get married within the Church itself. However, we also feel that the DVD many of our families received is inappropriate due to the civil nature of the issue, and the content is nothing more than simple, emotional propaganda.

Herb said...

Archbishop Nienstedt states in the DVD that gay marriage poses a threat not only to the children taken out of the foster care system and adopted by married gay couples, but to children everywhere. He warns us that if we were to legalize gay marriage, the government would start teaching children in public schools that gay marriage is okay––something that is not consistent with Catholic teachings. The DVD further equates the effects of growing up in a household with two moms or two dads to growing up in a polygamous household, or an impoverished, financially struggling, single parent home.

The DVD tells us that the legalization of same-sex marriage will result in a world that no longer cares about a one-man one-woman vision of marriage, which will in turn result in a society that is, “callous and indifferent to the suffering it imposes on its own children, and on women who are left to carry the burden of parenting, and on men who are fundamentally dehumanized.”

How gay marriage results in heterosexual divorce and poverty, the DVD fails to address. How gay marriage leads to the acceptance of polygamy, the DVD makes no mention of either.

In the end, the DVD simply tries to equate gay marriage (an institution that would actually bring families together through the adoption of children) to broken homes and polygamy, without providing any facts to back it up. And, while the struggles of raising a child without a mother or father as support are certainly real, this stems from the fact that single parents are doing the job of two people and is not a reason to deny homosexuals the right to marry under civil law.

The DVD also aimed to reject the notion that the issue of gay marriage is an issue of civil rights. They did this in the most subtle way imaginable: by having a black man quote Martin Luther King Jr. The quote in question was from “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and stated that for a law to be just it must be in line with natural law.

What the speaker fails to address is the very next line of the letter that states, “Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues are unjust because segregation distorts the soul.” Clearly this omitted line proves that MLK would not have supported discriminatory policies against any group, including homosexuals. The fact that the Church would go as far as to evoke MLK in an issue which he clearly wouldn’t have supported speaks volumes to the argument which the DVD presents.

To close its argument, the DVD states that the civil recognition of same-sex marriage would be an attack on our religious liberties as Catholics; however, no law that would be passed for gay marriage would have any impact on the Church’s ability to control its own definition of marriage. The legislature is discussing granting civil liberties to homosexuals in a legal way, not a religious one.

We have been told through this DVD to defend the historical definition of marriage through our votes. Well, up until 1967 it was a historical precedent not to let two people of different races get married in 17 states. In previous centuries, married women were considered their husband’s properties. But these things have changed, and it’s time for the civil definition of marriage to change again to account for our gay brothers and sisters, not in the Church, but at least in the civil arena.

written by a staff of a local catholic school...

Justin said...

Religious beliefs are irrelevant to this debate, because (1) the United States is not theocracy, and (2) churches will continue to be free to conduct or deny ceremonies to whomever they want.

Procreation and parenting are irrelevant, since (1) couples do not have to marry to have children, and (2) the ability or even desire to have children is not a prerequisite for getting a marriage license.

This is simply a matter of equal treatment under the law.

Marriage is a legal concept involving legal rights (like inheritance or court testimony) and is recognized as more than a religious bond by the government (in for example, having different tax status for married people, and SS benefits). Corporations also are involved in the civiil definition because they give, for example, health care benefits to spouses. By what right does anybody get to say “we decided what marriage is at it excludes a whole group of people”? On face, that seems to violate equal rights, not to mention a true sense of morality. This is a civil rights issue, not a religious issue–and, of course, the government has no right deciding religious issues or making laws based on religious dogma, if it were a religious issue.