Hotdish Politics: Marriage amendment defeat is cause for reflection

  • Updated: January 5, 2013 - 6:12 PM
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Minnesota for Marriage campaign manager Frank Schubert worked on the "Minnesota for Marriage," campaign.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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The head of the group that tried to pass the marriage amendment in Minnesota hopes the defeat serves as a jolt for supporters who sat back during the campaign.

Frank Schubert, a California-based consultant who served as campaign manager for Minnesota for Marriage, said they had a difficult time getting evangelical ministries to take a more significant role.

"I hope that the outcome of the marriage amendment will allow pastors to see that they do have an important role to play," Schubert said.

Many pastors declined to run voter-registration efforts in their churches or preach about the issue before the election, Schubert said. "It is important for them to organize to fight for important values that the church is built on."

Schubert ran and lost marriage- related campaigns in Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington state last month. After 30 victories for marriage amendments, Minnesota became the first state to defeat such a measure. That success spawned a new push in the Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage this year.

Schubert always expected he'd be outspent in Minnesota, but he didn't anticipate having to wage a multi-state effort.

When advocates decided to put the measure on the ballot two years ago, Minnesota looked to be the only state planning to deal with the marriage issue. That would allow amendment supporters to focus their organizational and financial muscle in one state.

To their surprise, three other states decided to ask voters to legalize same-sex marriage.

"The fact that there was so many other marriage fights really hurt us in Minnesota," Schubert said. "We thought this would be the premier battle in the country, but three other battles came up and we were on defense."

When Schubert ran a similar marriage amendment campaign four years ago in California, he put out an emergency letter to supporters around the nation. In 10 days, he raised $6 million.

"We couldn't rally the rest of the country to come to Minnesota's defense," Schubert said.

Schubert said he is not surprised the other side is already trying to legalize same-sex marriage, which was never part of their campaign message.

"This is exactly what we said they would do," he said. "They are now showing their duplicity."

Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which defeated the amendment, said that his group's supporters spent nearly a year talking about the importance of marriage.

"People know marriage is about love and commitment and taking care of one another," he said recently. "Marriage is that next natural step."

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    The week ahead

    On Tuesday, the 2013 Minnesota legislative session will convene.

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