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Engage conscience: Vote No
Written by Kerry Ashmore, Co-Publisher
Posted  10/30/2012
The two Minnesota constitutional amendments on the ballot Nov. 6 are woeful examples of government at its worst, in a state that was once known for government at its best. We happen to oppose the restrictions they would bring, and will discuss those points below. However, these amendments will harm the very causes they purport to champion, because they’re legally misplaced. They’ll bring about years of litigation that will put "on hold" any real progress toward resolving the issues. Those on all sides of the issues will be better off if the amendments fail.

Constitutions exist to define and limit the powers of government, not to prescribe people’s daily procedures. Neither of these issues comes close to belonging in the state constitution. They are the wishes of a certain group of politicians who know they won’t get their way through the regular lawmaking process. If they’re allowed to succeed, it will only invite others to do the same with their wishes when the balance of power changes. The constitution and the state will be far worse for it.

The voter ID amendment; while it does not prevent all low-income, minority and senior citizens from voting; is part of a well-funded national effort to reduce the number of low-income, minority and senior voters in future elections. As an average Joe or Jane who simply wants to ensure election integrity, you probably don’t want to keep these people from voting.

If you vote for this amendment, however, you are actively assisting those who do, and you have to own that. If you can look in the mirror and say, "I understand this will discourage thousands of law-abiding Minnesotans from voting, but if it keeps some impostor somewhere from casting a ballot, I’m for it," then this amendment is for you.

If your conscience has a hard time with that, vote no.

Government has no business telling people what they can and can’t do if what they’re doing doesn’t harm anyone. People are free to dislike the concept of same-sex marriage, but same-sex marriage doesn’t harm anyone and government has no business forbidding it. If we allow government to decide what gender you must marry, how can we forbid government from deciding what race you must marry, what religion you must marry, what height, weight and hair color you must marry?

And for those who care about their place in history, equality for gay people is making rapid progress (given the slow pace at which societal change generally occurs). Those who work to oppose it will have a place in history...right alongside those who actively oppose racial and gender equality. Is that the legacy you want to leave?

A couple whose only "offense" is being the same gender doesn’t harm anyone; denying them the legal rights and benefits society offers opposite-sex couples does harm them. You have a clear choice: To harm, or not to harm. Vote no.

Northeaster Opinion