Gov. Mark Dayton didn’t have to wade Wednesday into the politically perilous waters that are swelling around the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
It goes to the 2012 ballot regardless of gubernatorial action.
Some advisers might have urged Dayton to stay mum about marriage, given his increasingly pressing political need to persuade amendment-supporting Republicans to join him in a budget deal.
But when the amendment’s paperwork arrived on his desk as a formality, the DFL governor saw an opportunity to speak out, and seized it.
“I urge Minnesotans to reject this mean-spirited, divisive, un-Minnesotan and un-American amendment,” he read from the message he attached to a veto that he acknowledged was merely symbolic.
But there’s nothing “mere” about symbolism in the shared life of a state. Openly gay state Sen. Scott Dibble
, praised Dayton for summoning reporters for a formal statement on the side of marriage equality.
“It has a tremendously positive effect,” Dibble said.
Dayton’s way of using the prerogatives and power of the executive branch is likely to come into clearer view to Minnesotans now that the Legislature is not in session.
With the gay marriage amendment veto letter, Dayton showed a willingness to deploy his bully pulpit not necessarily for his own political advantage, but for the sake of what he believes is right for Minnesota.