NORTH MANKATO — Polls show Minnesotans are closely divided on the ballot measure to constitutionally prohibit same-sex marriage, but the North Mankato City Council was overwhelmingly opposed Monday night to getting entangled in the issue.
After listening to five people — three in favor of the city holding a public hearing and passing a resolution opposing the amendment, two calling for no city involvement — the council rejected a request to hold a hearing and pass a resolution in opposition to the amendment.
Mayor Mark Dehen and council members Diane Norland and Bill Schindle said they didn’t see a proper city role in sponsoring a discussion of — or taking an official position related to — the amendment that would constitutionally reinforce Minnesota’s existing law limiting marriage to opposite sex couples.
Councilman Bob Freyberg remained silent during the discussion and declined to comment after the meeting, and Councilman Billy Steiner was absent. But with three members of the five-person council uninterested in getting involved, the issue was decided.
“If we vote one way, we’re supporting 50 percent of the population and we’re going against 50 percent of the population,” Schindle said, breaking several seconds of silence after Dehen asked the council to state its wishes. “And I just don’t think that’s something the council should do.”
Dehen said the electorate will settle the issue on Nov. 6.
“At this point, I think we’ll let the voters decide in the privacy of the ballot box,” said Dehen, who like Schindle didn’t share his opinion of the amendment itself.
Dehen, Steiner and Norland will be on the same ballot, seeking re-election. But Norland’s comments may have left both 50-percents unhappy — strongly condemning the amendment but declining to support the resolution opposing it.
“If you drive by my house, you will see the sign. You will know where I stand,” Norland said of her “Vote No” yard sign. “I’ve been grappling with this for a long, long time. I abhor what I call ‘the anti-marriage amendment.’ I abhor it.”