Minnesota Is Making Me Nervous
Senate Republicans are quickly extinguishing any doubt of their commitment to prohibit same-sex marriage. In recent weeks, members of their caucus have introduced at least eight separate constitutional amendments to do just that.
Despite how it might appear, though, it's not necessarily a case of overkill. Republicans in the DFL-controlled Senate say the tactic was necessary to keep the issue from dropping off the radar screen at the Capitol.
The explanation resides in the arcane byways of the Senate's rules.
Last year, the full Senate rejected an attempt by Sen. Michele Bachmann, chief proponent of the gay marriage ban, to force a floor vote on her amendment. When Bachmann tried to force another vote recently, Senate Democrats invoked a rule they say prohibited a second vote on the same measure.
In response, Senate Republicans introduced a cluster of gay marriage amendments, each with only slight differences in wording. That may allow them to continue forcing votes on the amendment, keeping up pressure on wavering Democrats who oppose gay marriage but are sticking with Democratic leadership in denying Republicans a floor debate.
Yes, it's a Democratic-controlled body, but only narrowly. The good news, I think, is that Democrats have a reasonable chance to increase their majority in November, as well as possibly recapture the state house. So if Democrats can hold Republicans off until then, we may be out of the woods there. And make no mistake, Democrats would be fools to let this amendment be on the ballot. These sorts of things only increase Republican turnout.