Are contributions to same-sex marriage campaigns a waste of money?

Citizen Input

“Citizen Input” by Dave Glad via MPR’s Flickr pool

The proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is dominating political talk at the State Fair reports MPR’s Sasha Aslanian. Passion is strong on both sides of the issue, political observers estimate campaign spending could reach and even surpass $10 million before voters cast ballots next year.

You could double that campaign spending and would still be unlikely to sway voters from the position they currently hold on same-sex marriage.

NYU’s Patrick Egan has studied similar measures addressing same-sex marriage in 33 states since 1998 and found that campaigns to change public opinion on the issue are ineffective.

But what’s $10 million today anyway? It’s just a wedding for Kim Kardashian or a grilled cheese for a venture capitalist.

  • B Joe

    I suspect that the money would be most effectively spent trying to motivate people to go to the polls. Gay marriage isn’t a new issue, and a lot of people have already staked out their opinion on the matter.

    This is likely going to be the last chance the “traditional” (as in, traditional if you only look at a slice of the history of marriage) marriage defenders will have to see their particular brand of busybodiness codified. As more young folks come of age and with increased normalization of homosexuality in popular culture, society will soon confront the idea of two men or two women marrying with a collective “meh”. And justly so.

  • Jon

    But attitudes are changing in Minnesota – over certain periods of time at least. I seem to recall that a poll done earlier this year showed the measure being defeated by a majority of Minnesotans. A few years ago, a majority supported such a thing (sadly). Some people must be changing (or demographics may be shifting, I guess).

  • jon


    The importance of this particular vote is the time that it will stay in effect. It’s pretty well known that the young will over turn this law in due time, but it’ll be harder to get a constitutional amendment over turned then it would be for the current laws banning same sex marriage (I just got my marriage license and had to swear in front of a county official that me and my spouse were one man and one woman.)

    you did hit the nail on the head though as voter turn out is going to be key. Republicans are hoping that their base is more opposed to gay marriage then the rest of the state is for it.

    I think that voter turn out can be driven much higher in the pro-gay marriage camp with money then the “traditional marriage” (unless the bible is traditional) folks can. Mostly cause I think the “traditional marriage” camp is already pretty well saturated as far as voter turn out, where the younger crowd needs a reason to be convinced to go to the polls.

  • B Joe


    I don’t disagree with the idea that if this amendment passes, it would be burdensome to overturn.

    I got married last year. Not because I wanted to make a promise before god. Me and the lady have been together for seven years and have a couple kids and don’t plan on splitting up any time soon. We got married so we could be covered on the same insurance plan.

    It would be funny if this amendment motivates enough progressive turnout to affect the results of legislative elections.

  • Alison

    Yes, attitudes are changing, as Jon points out. But as Michael asks in this post, I’m not convinced it is the money that is doing it. Demographics also play a roll, but they aren’t the whole story.

    I think the biggest factor in the shift in opinion is the result of those gay and lesbian couples who have the courage to live their lives out and with dignity, as well as the straight people who have the courage to stand up for them. Many people now know lesbian and gay couples, even quite a few with kids. It doesn’t take long for straight people to realize the lives of gay people are not so different that their own, even when it comes to things like parenting. They find gay and lesbian people can actually be good friends, neighbors, coworkers, and yes, even parents.

    It’s one thing to believe a pastor or politician preaching lies about a faceless evil-doer. It’s another story entirely when that faceless evil-doer is actually your brother or sister or that nice person who works or lives down the hall.

  • BJ

    If it is used correctly the 4-5 Million used on each side could sway voters. Alison hit part of what should be part of the vote no campaigns tactics. Make it about the nice person on your street, or a family member. It also should not be about same-sex marriage, it should be about it being a very bad thing to put in the state constitution.

    A great ad for the Vote No campaign should be:

    If they get this approved what other things will they want to put in the constitution? (then show video clips of the authors of this bill – the amendment was first a bill – other ideas, ideas out of the mainstream).

    I applied for the Campaign Manager job at Minnesotans United for All Families and have a million more ideas.

  • Candi

    I’m looking forward to going to the fair sans children this weekend. I already warned my husband that I’m hitting the Vote Yes type booths to ask how exactly they justify this amendment, especially considering that the most well-known study supporting their side has been discredited. This only leaves homophobia and religious reasons. And if we’re talking about marriage as a religious institution, where does that leave people like my husband and I who specifically chose to be wed outside of a church by a judge? Oh, and what about the GOP’s push for “smaller government”? Seems like this is more governement telling people how to live their lives.

    And then, if they ignore me, I’ll get really loud (that’ll be due to the beer in my hand – remember, we’ll have no kids in tow). I’ve offered to do data entry for MN United for All Families – I cannot be trusted to go out and talk to people who disagree with me on this topic in a civilized manner.

    My guess is the husband will do his best to keep me occupied with other things…

  • Al

    I guess we have opposite spouses, Candi. My wife is always trying to set me up to go off on the Boy Scout table in the Education Bldg at the Fair to tell the council leadership they can shove the BSA bigotry up their $#%^$. Be careful though, Candi. This isn’t going to be won by being a jerk. Leave that to other side.