The same-sex marriage debate, one person at a time (5×8 – 12/23/11)

The reasons behind the vote, youth sports and the parents who ruin them, when soldiers come home, is America’s religious freedom under threat, and the Eichten countdown.


MPR’s Public Insight Network’s fine offerings sometimes get a little too hidden from view on a big website like this one, which is unfortunate because it’s a team that does some inspiring work. Even I didn’t know about an outstanding array of videos the Network has been assembling from Minnesotans on the question of the same-sex marriage constitutional amendment, which Minnesota voters will decide next November.

Members of the network have been allowing the PIN team — Jeff Jones and Anna Weggel — to videotape the reasons for their vote. They’re good. Here’s an example from one side:

And the other…

I’m going to spend a great deal of today on the group’s YouTube channel.


Apparently, this is going to be a day for us assembled here to share our stories of the weird things we’ve seen at youth sporting events. There’s something in the water in Minnesota at the moment, based on the frequency of reports of fathers attacking sons over a basketball game and parents attacking officials at hockey games.

The Star Tribune says the latest incident occurred in Inver Grove Heights after a hockey coach disciplined a kid who swung his stick at another player because “he wasn’t skating enough.”

The coach said he pulled Tonda’s son aside and told him his behavior was not acceptable and that it could eventually lead to him breaking someone’s legs or hurting them. The coach said he told Tonda’s son to get back to practice but instead the boy skated off the ice and went into the locker room.

Tonda followed his son, then returned to the penalty box and “started screaming at the victim to ‘Get over here,'” the complaint said. When the coach approached, Tonda started yelling and screaming, then when the coach told him “to stop and go home,” Tonda put him in a stranglehold, the complaint said.

YouTube is full of stuff like this:

Just one question: What?


Returning soldiers are coming up with new ways to surprise their kids when they return from overseas. There are three in the news today.

In Fargo, 4-year-old Owen Henry went to visit Santa Claus at the shopping mall, and he came home with a new hockey stick, and an old father. Good video from the Fargo Forum here.

In Bismarck, two young girls were invited to shoot at the goalie during an intermission promotion at a hockey game. The goalie was dad.

A soldier in Omaha did it the old-fashioned way — at school:

<a href=';vid=c6104938-fe85-435f-a679-9cb23046590f&#038;from=&#038;src=v5:embed::' target='_new' title='Metro Soldier Surprises Children At School'>Video: Metro Soldier Surprises Children At School</a>


An outstanding discussion underway at the New York Times:

Companies have pulled their ads from a TV show that portrays Muslims as benign. Religious groups may be required to offer insurance that covers drugs that can induce abortions. A federal judge rejected a ballot initiative on same-sex marriage partly because of its religious arguments. Are these just bubbles in the American melting pot, or signs that religious freedom is under threat?


Gary Eichten reflects on his career as it winds down at MPR in a new video:

Other than my father in law, an outstanding broadcast pioneer, there isn’t anybody I’ll miss in this business more than Mr. Eichten.

If you haven’t checked out the farewell page yet, here you go.

Bonus: Can you imagine any company in the U.S. doing this? Concerned that its employees are spending too much time working during off-hours, Volkswagen turns off e-mail at night.

Bonus II: The New York Times enlists Ira Glass to mark the lives of the icons who died in 2011.


Charities make a big push to raise money during the holiday season. Today’s Question: How do you decide which charities to give to and which to pass on?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The face of American culture used to change radically every decade or two, writes Kurt Andersen, but 1992 and 2012 look disturbingly alike.

Second hour: The Bad Plus is a band that’s not easily categorized. They’re a combination of jazz, pop, rock and a little but of Rush thrown in for good measure. They join Marianne Combs in the Maud Moon studio for a live performance and a look back at a decade of confounding musical expectations.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Roy Grow discusses the situation in North Korea.

Second hour: “Of Mirth and Mischief,” a holiday show by MPR artist-in-residence Kevin Kling.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Forty years ago, the “War on Cancer” began. Join Ira Flatow talks with Nobel-prize-winning cancer researcher Harold Varmus about how far we’ve come.

Second hour: The Christmas bird count.

  • Josh
  • Sam

    I honestly clicked play on Roger & Liz O’Daniel’s video hoping to be as moved as Bob obviously was by their reasoned, compassionate support for the marriage amendment. But after watching it three times, desperately hoping I could find some part of myself that respects their position, I gave up.

    Liz’s subtext seems to be: “I know that our side is completely wrong about this. I’ve worked with a bunch of gay people, and they’re people just like me, and they deserve to get married to whoever they want. But I’m a Catholic, and my husband starts spewing nonsensical garbage about the ‘legal implications’ whenever this subject comes up, so I’m just going to vote yes so I don’t have to argue about it.”

    All the soft, sad Nickel Creek soundtracks in the world can’t make that viewpoint any less dispiriting. I used to think that Minnesota was better than this, but lately, I’m realizing that “this” – accepting the status quo, no matter how unfair or inequitable it might be, just to avoid having to discuss it – is exactly what Minnesota is at its core. And it makes me want to leave, which is something I couldn’t have conceived of even three years ago.

  • John P II

    I don’t think Bob selected these videos because he was moved by them, but he can speak to that. I liked the first video, because Roger consistently referred to marriage as a “brand” and I think that makes a lot of sense. Like so many other brands, it’s become diluted and now means something entirely different – as the second video so aptly illustrated. “Marrying” a person of a completely different religion should be a stranger idea than marrying someone of the same gender.

    So churches, admit that you lost your brand and make up another name for it. American society will recognize whatever you call it as a civil union aka domestic partnership if you pay the fee and fill out the paperwork. Of course, these same rights would be available to any citizens paying the same fee and filling out the same paperwork.

    Discrimination based on sexual orientation is nothing more than gender discrimination, pure and simple.

  • Disco

    Wow, amazing. A couple of aging, white catholics against gay marriage. Fascinating stuff. Where did they manage to find these people? Their reasoning is so original and compelling. I mean, WOW!

    My view is that the word “marriage” should be completely barred from having any legal weight. By law, everyone should have a civil union. The government will not get involved in marriages; rather, the government will issue a civil union license. Once signed, you have all the legal rights and obligations that are allowed under current law — for any two people.

    If you want a “marriage,” then go to a church or some other organization (hell, it can be the Ringling Brothers Circus for all I care) and they will sprinkle you with holy water or dance around like fools or whatever. They can call it a marriage and then you’ll be “married” in the eyes of God or Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster — the invisible man of your choosing. Your church or synagogue or mosque can choose whether to “marry” gay people. But the marriage over which those organisations preside will have precisely zero legal standing. The union itself will not be legally valid or enforceable until a civil union license is granted by the local government. Government, in effect, becomes 100% disconnected from the religious idea of marriage — which is exactly how it should have been since 4 July 1776.

    Now everyone is equal, as written in the Declaration of Independence.

  • John P II

    let’s dance Disco!

  • Disco

    John P II:

    Now playing, “Casanova” by Coffee

  • Sue

    Sorry – I couldn’t even watch Roger and Liz’s video for more than a few seconds. My gosh – to even bring this issue to a vote is a complete waste of time and taxpayer’s money.

    There is no reason that these couples can’t be married legally – except people’s discrimination and bigotry.

    The catholic church has used this logic for centuries and people continue to follow it blindly. Think for yourself people.

  • Al Heebsh

    I’ve never liked the idea of calling a marriage a civil union. However I am beginning to see that giving it a name other than marriage is the only way that some people will realize that what we now call marriage is a civil contract that sometimes happens with the blessings of religious official. I’m beginning to think no one should be ‘married’ in the eyes of the state. You should need to go before a judge or other state official to witness the signing of your legal contract. If you chose, go before your religious leader or stand before your family and friends and profess your commitment. Call it a marriage, but that is your own choosing, and one no one can take away from you. Marriage would have no legal meaning.

    What those opposed to gay people being legally married fail to take into account is that there are many gay and lesbian couples who are already families, going about their lives as if they were. But they go about their lives with a certain pain, anger, cynicism. However many find the strength to live their lives with quiet grace, raising families which, not surprisingly, work a lot like every other family in the neighborhood. The difference is that they are lacking a number of legal protections and benefits the rest of the married couples in this country take for granted. That and they need to explain to their children why the people who follow the ‘God of Love’ think their parents’ love shouldn’t be allowed.

    Gay and lesbian couples exist. Families headed by gay and lesbian parents exist. The only thing this amendment would accomplish is to further cement in the laws of our state the bigotry they face in the name of Christ.