Foreshadowing what could be a close vote this November, the main groups rallying for and against a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota are within shouting distance at the State Fair.
Minnesotans United for All Families, which opposes the amendment, and Minnesota for Marriage, which supports it, are both jockeying for hearts and minds with booths on Cooper Street between Wright and Dan Patch avenues.
Casey Warren, of Bloomington, said on Wednesday that she came out to support the amendment because of her 47-year marriage and six children. She worries what effect gay marriage will have on generations to come.
“To me it’s about the children. If you allow the children to be part of same sex parents, they’re going to be affected in big ways,” Warren said.
Warren, who volunteered at the Minnesota for Marriage booth with her husband, said she’s a Republican but not active in the party—although she is active in her church. But she worked at the fair because she wanted to ensure marriage remains between a man and a woman.
“As we’ve seen with other states, judges have seen fit to overturn those statutes,” she said.
Down the way, Jay Pearson of St. Louis Park said he's fighting against the amendment because of his own long-term relationship. He's been with his partner for 42 years.
“Marriage isn’t a romantic thing for us, it’s a benefits thing,” Pearson said, adding that as he and his partner age, he wants to make sure there aren't obstacles to taking care of each other.
Pearson said he's been encouraged by the conversations he's had with fair-goers.
“It’s really heart-filling to see the positive support we’re getting at the fair,” he said.
So far, the proximity of the two booths hasn't caused any problems. Warren said she hadn’t seen exchanges between amendment proponents and opponents spark any incidents—adding that most of the group’s opponents were civil. Barb Maresh, a Blaine resident who touts her 55-year marriage and six children, said they don’t bear the other side ill will.
“We don’t dislike these people. We don’t have bad feelings about them. I have people in my family that are (homosexual),” Maresh said.
Pearson and Stephen Schreiber, who is a communications assistant with Minnesotans United, say it's an issue of equality.
“We know same-sex couples want to get married for the same reasons as everyone else,” Schreiber said.
A June poll from Public Policy Polling shows that 49 percent of Minnesota voters are opposed to the measure and 43 percent support it.