Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

Gays, lesbians thrive despite amendments

  • Article by: CHUCK DARRELL
  • February 8, 2012 - 8:43 PM

In "The marriage amendment, from all angles" (Jan. 14), Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman of Carlson, a travel and hospitality company, argues that if Minnesota voters pass the Marriage Protection Amendment, talented gay employees will no longer want to work and live in our state.

This is an absurd argument, undercut by the experience of her own company, the trends of gay population in our state and plain old logic.

Carlson's premiere brand is the Radisson Hotels. Of the 108 Radisson locations in the United States, 70 of them -- fully 65 percent -- are located in states with a marriage protection amendment similar to that proposed in Minnesota.

Another Carlson brand is Country Inn & Suites. Of the states it has chosen to operate in, 67 percent have a marriage amendment in their constitution.

Sixty-four percent of all their 40 Country Inn & Suites properties are in states with a marriage amendment. And 86 percent of their Park Inn by Radisson properties are located in states with a marriage amendment.

Obviously, Carlson is thriving in states with marriage amendments. There is no reason to conclude they would not continue to thrive in Minnesota.

Furthermore, there is nothing in the amendment that would prohibit Carlson -- or any other employer -- from offering its gay and lesbian employees the same benefits they offer to heterosexual employees. They are free to provide whatever benefits they wish to whomever they wish.

Minnesota law already provides that marriage is only between one man and one woman. Nothing will change if the marriage amendment passes. Our marriage laws will be exactly the same as they are now.

And even with a law that limits marriage to one man and one woman, Minnesota has seen a dramatic rise in the number of gay couples coming to our state.

In other words, despite the fact that same-sex marriage is already prohibited in Minnesota, gays and lesbians are flocking to our state -- not leaving it.

The Star Tribune made this point clear when it reported last July that the number of gay couples in Minnesota has risen 50 percent in the past decade, "a rate of growth five times faster than households overall."

The Strib also went on to report that Minneapolis was named the "nation's most gay-friendly city."

Let's take a look at other states. The Advocate, a well-known gay and lesbian publication, recently published its third annual list of "Gayest Cities in America."

A quick look at the list reveals that 12 of the 15 "Gayest Cities in America" are in states with marriage protection amendments, and many cities moved up in the Advocate's ranking despite being in states with marriage protection amendments, including the new first- and second-place cities.

Clearly, marriage amendments don't seem to have caused gays and lesbians to avoid those states either.

There is no evidence whatsoever that talented employees would leave Minnesota, or refuse to relocate here, if we adopt the marriage amendment. Indeed, there is powerful evidence, including Carlson's own experience, of quite the contrary conclusion.

In sum, we agree with Nelson that Minnesota is a great place to live. But adoption of the amendment will not change that. Employees of all backgrounds -- gay and straight -- will continue to flock to Minnesota.

All that the marriage protection amendment does is ensure that if someone wants to change the definition of marriage in the future, they must get the permission of voters to do so.


Chuck Darrell is director of communications for Minnesota For Marriage.

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