Many DFLers lead districts where marriage amendment passed

It didn’t take long after the election results came in for opponents of the marriage amendment to announce their intentions to take the next step — make same-sex marriage legal in the state. The DFL now controls both the House and Senate plus the governor’s office.

But will legislators in districts where the amendment passed back legalization? It turns out, many of them are DFLers.

An analysis of the marriage amendment vote shows that many DFL lawmakers represent districts that voted yes, and sometimes overwhelmingly so. In fact, 18 17 DFL House members and 10 DFL senators are in districts where the amendment, which would have defined marriage as between a man and woman, passed with 50 percent or more of the vote.

It’s also true that many Republican lawmakers are in districts where the marriage amendment failed: 22 in the House and eight in Senate. But it’s likely DFLers would feel more pressure to support a same-sex marriage legalization bill because it would be their party proposing it. Only two four Republican lawmakers voted against putting the marriage question on the ballot.

Several other states have legalized same-sex marriage through legislation. The first was Vermont in 2009. Same-sex marriage became legal there when the Legislature overrode the Republican governor’s veto.

Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith, a Democrat, said in an interview that he doesn’t think DFL lawmakers representing conservative districts on the marriage issue would be voted out of office for supporting same-sex marriage legislation.

“We did not see real blowback as a result of our representatives voting for the override who were in conservative districts,” he said.

Smith acknowledged that other states that have legalized same-sex marriage, including New Hampshire, did see Democrats lose seats in 2010, but he attributed that to a good election year for Republicans and not the marriage vote.

“The country is shifting very quickly on this issue. People realize that whether you’re gay or straight, you should be able to marry who you want, and in some ways it’s a conservative principle that people should want to get married,” he said.

Smith said he’s looking forward to watching the marriage debate continue to unfold in Minnesota. “I think it would be exciting if Minnesota passed a marriage equality bill,” he said.

But at least one newly elected Minnesota House member isn’t ready to commit to supporting an effort to make same-sex marriage legal. Joe Radinovich, a DFLer from Crosby, beat out his Republican opponent in a district where voters approved the marriage amendment by nearly 63 percent of the vote.

Radinovich said he publicly opposed the marriage amendment during the campaign. But is he ready to take it a step further?

“I don’t want to anticipate what legislation may arise,” he said Thursday, adding that issues including education and the tax code are top of mind.

UPDATE: Newly chosen DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk spoke on MPR’s The Daily Circuit today. He said the “no” vote on the marriage amendment doesn’t mean Minnesotans want to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I think what the electorate was telling the Legislature is, ‘Don’t go pass constitutional amendments to get around a governor.’ You know, it was already against the law in Minnesota, there was no reason for a constitutional amendment, and I think most Minnesotans didn’t feel that amending the constitution with those kind of provisions — social provisions — was a proper use of the constitution,” he said.

Bakk said the state’s budget — not policy issues — will be the priority in the upcoming legislative session.

What DFL lawmakers are in districts where the marriage amendment passed? Check out the maps below. Their districts are in light blue. Republican lawmakers in districts where the marriage amendment failed are shaded pink.

House districts:

Senate districts:

  • Jim

    For what it’s worth, there is a mistake in this article. By my count there were at least four GOP members in the House who voted against the marriage amendment. They were Reps. Kelly, Murray, Smith, and Kriesel.

  • Elizabeth Dunbar

    You’re right. The four House Republicans to vote against it were John Kriesel, Tim Kelly, Steve Smith and Rich Murray. I’ve corrected above.

  • Disco

    It’s a question of leadership. Will the DFL lead on this issue? The people of Minnesota have spoken clearly. If the DFL fail to pass marriage equality, then more than 50% of the state has no ally at the Capitol.

    There are precisely zero excuses for not passing marriage equality.

  • Tim

    I don’t think those maps correctly show what they are supposed to show. They suggest that all House and Senate districts in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area are “vote yes” districts, which cannot be true.

  • Jonathan

    Its refreshing to hear Senate Majority Leader Bakk’s statements. While I, personally, would be very supportive of legalizing orientation-inclusive marriage, the failure of the amendment to pass is not necessarily a mandate to reverse the law in place. What’s more important to me at this point is that DFL legislators and leaders exhibit an approach to governance that is progressive yet rational and based upon voter sentiment.

    I say this in contrast to the nature of the Republican-controlled congress that put this sort of amendment on the ballot when public resources could have been put in place more effectively.

    We know now that the majority of voters are against a narrow definition of marriage, but to avoid government that is perpetually passing and repealing of law, I think DFLers need to first gauge public opinion before writing a bill broadening the definition of marriage.

  • Steve

    Yes! I agree with Mr. Bakk. As a conservative independent, many of my friends voted NO to the amendment, because changing the constitution is an inappropriate way of governing.

    Take this sentiment and add the 48% of the people who voted Yes and I don’t see any mandate for a changing current law regarding marriage.