One Republican called the statement "unfortunate."
President Obama's Minnesota campaign waded into the state's marriage amendment fight on Monday with a statement saying the president opposes the proposal that would define marriage only as the union of a man and woman.
Obama for America's Minnesota communications director, Kristin Sosanie, said in a news release that "while the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples. That's what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do -- it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples."
Minnesotans will vote Nov. 6 on a state constitutional amendment that would, in effect, ban same-sex marriage.
Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, one of the House supporters of the marriage amendment, said he was "disappointed" in the Obama campaign statement.
"Frankly, I think it's unfortunate that the president of the United States is getting involved in a state issue," Gottwalt said, "but that's certainly his right."
Gottwalt said he objects to the idea that the amendment is being framed as anti-gay marriage. He said the amendment simply would enshrine the idea that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman. "The idea that this is an attack on anyone is just incorrect," he said. "It's called the marriage amendment. What this really is about is marriage, and Minnesotans ought to have the right to say what that means to them."
Monday's statement marks only the second time Obama's campaign has weighed in on a state ballot question involving gay marriage, Sosanie confirmed. The first was last month in North Carolina, where voters face a marriage-ballot question in May. There, Obama state campaign press secretary Cameron French issued a statement with almost the exact wording as Sosanie's. Despite his opposition to the amendments, the president has not come out in support of gay marriage; he has said that his views on marriage equality are "evolving."
Seven Minnesota DFL legislators on Monday quickly released their own statement supporting Obama's opposition of the amendment, saying in part, "We thank President Obama for lending his voice to this discussion and hope it sparks a conversation that Minnesotans will be having in their communities in the months leading up to Election Day about what marriage, family and freedom really mean to each of us."
Staff writer Jennifer Brooks contributed to this report. Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102