Late Saturday night the Minnesota House passed a bill which will ask Minnesota voters to define marriage as being between one man and one woman during the 2012 general election. If approved by voters, the measure will become part of the Minnesota State Constitution. The bill passed the House by a 70-62 vote that broke roughly along party lines.
Richfield Patch caught up with House Minority Leader Paul Thissen (DFL–Richfield/Minneapolis) following the vote and here's what he had to say:
Richfield Patch: What were your initial thoughts following the bill’s passage in the House?
Rep. Paul Thissen: My reaction is [one of] deep disappointment in the State Legislature. This [bill] is not consistent with the values of Minnesota. It’s incredibly divisive and not something we need in our politics. [The vote] was incredibly ill-timed for Saturday night. The entire thing was a fundamental failure of leadership by Republicans. And we’re not getting work done on the budget.
Richfield Patch: What was it like on the House floor before and during the vote?
Thissen: The tone was very somber, very apprehensive ... We’re inscribing discrimination in our state constitution.
Richfield Patch: What’s been the response of your constituency to this effort?
Thissen: All I would say is that the constituents I’ve talked to are, by a 90-10 percent margin–or perhaps even higher, perhaps as much as a 95-5 percent margin–against placing this on the ballot.
Richfield Patch: Do you think the ballot initiative will be approved?
Thissen: The people of Minnesota will do the right thing. Ultimately I think the people of Minnesota will vote against a constitutional amendment [defining marriage].