As a ballot initiate aimed at amending the Minnesota constitution to ban same-sex marriage makes it way through the legislature, many state lawmakers, religious leaders and family values organizations cite single-parent families and a skyrocketing divorce rate as reasons to protect marriage from being redefined by “activist judges.”
But many legislators who say they want to protect marriage appear to have been divorced, which may signal why they rebuffed one lawmaker’s attempt to insert a ban on divorce in the anti-gay marriage amendment.
Among the divorced lawmakers, according to the Independent:
- Sen. Pam Wolf (R-Spring Lake Park), divorced in 2000, is a sponsor of the Senate version and voted to pass the bill in the Senate last week.
- Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria), divorced earlier this year, is a sponsor of the House version of the bill.
- Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa), divorced in 1994 is a sponsor of the House version of the bill.
- Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Good Thunder), divorce, according to his website, was a sponsor in the last legislative session.
- Rep. Doug Wardlow (R-Eagan), filed for divorce in 2005, voted for the bill in the House Civil Law Committee.
- Rep. Tom Hackbarth (R-Cedar), legally separated from his wife, voted for the bill in the House Ways and Means Committee.
- Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), divorced in 2010, voted for the amendment last week.
Last month, Sen. Barb Goodwin (D-Columbia Heights), suggested that, if supporters wanted to preserve the “sanctity” of marriage, the bill should also support a ban on divorce in heterosexual marriages. She proposed tweaking the text of the bill to add the words “for life” — limiting marriage to one per person per lifetime.
Her effort failed, which she said illustrated that the bill “isn’t based on an issue of how sacred marriage is — it’s an issue of discrimination.”
The Minnesota Family Council, a main proponent of the anti-gay marriage amendment, has organized much of testimony in favor of putting the issue to the ballot.
On Tuesday, presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich headlined the group’s fundraiser. Gingrich has been married three times; the first two marriages ended in divorce after he committed adultery with women who would become his second and third wives.