Same-Sex Marriage Battle Intensifies in Minnesota

The battle for and against the constitutional ban on gay marriage has kicked into full swing in Minnesota six months ahead of the vote due to President Barack Obama's recent support of same-sex marriage.

Obama's May 9 announcement that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage, which followed a day after North Carolina approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions, has charged up both opponents and supporters of a similar measure in Minnesota.

The number of volunteers signing up for Minnesotans United for All Families, which is fighting the November measure, more than doubled after Obama's announcement, CNN quoted the group's campaign manager Richard Carlbom as saying Saturday.

Obama's support and North Carolina's vote "was an incredible one-two punch for us in Minnesota in terms of punching up the amount of energy," Carlbom was quoted as saying.

Those supporting the measure to ban same-sex marriage are equally energized by Obama's decision, which Chuck Darrell, communications director for Minnesota for Marriage, said "alerted our base to the fact that there are politicians who are trying to meddle with the definition of marriage."

The group's chairman, John Helmberger, said Obama's support of same-sex marriage will help Minnesota for Marriage gain support. "That will energize them to make phone calls, knock on doors, and to make sure they turn out in November," he was quoted as saying.

Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, said dioceses were giving money to support the marriage amendment. "We're going to raise and spend the money we need to get the message out about what marriage is, why it's important and what the consequences will be if it's redefined," he was quoted as saying.

Catholic churches in the state have donated $350,000 to Minnesota for Marriage, Adkins added.

Meanwhile, Lutherans in the St. Paul area officially announced their opposition to amending the constitution. The Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America passed a resolution Saturday opposing the measure at its annual meeting in Burnsville.

Some believe the same-sex issue might help Obama gain support. "Social issues including gay marriage are unlikely to affect voter choice between [Mitt] Romney and Obama. But it could be a big tool for Obama to turn out disaffected Democrats who are likely to sit out the election," University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs was quoted as saying.

However, a May 10 USA Today/Gallup poll warned that Obama's decision might make him lose support nationally. The poll found that 26 percent say Obama's support of gay marriage will make them less likely to vote for him as compared to just 13 percent who say it will make them more likely.

Same-sex marriage is expected to be an important issue in the November election. Minnesota is one of the four states to vote on the measure along with Washington, Maine and Maryland.

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