The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 7, 2012

Update: Marriage amendment left at altar

By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — The Meier house is ready for action.

The table is full of fresh veggies, crackers and Key lime pie. There are beers on tables, Cokes on TV trays. Laptops and iPads fired up and humming along.

And there are people. People with “I voted” stickers, people discussing electoral votes, people peering at the television screen every time Wolf Blitzer proclaims he’s ready with another projection about Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Minnesota.

But while this crowd is paying attention to all the developments of election night, the one that they’re paying attention to with their hearts is very obvious to anyone who walks in the door.

“Vote no” stickers have been stuck to ball caps and T-shirts. “Vote no” signs are draped over the fireplace, across the closets. There are also American flags, red, white and blue decorations, even a cute little West Highland terrier named Ringo being chased around by a little girl named Esme.

“No” is the word of the day, here. And apparently, it was for much of the state as the marriage amendment was declared defeated at about 1:45 a.m. today.

The vote was very close: 51.3 percent voted no; 1.38 percent left the question blank, equaling a no vote; and 47.3 percent cast yes votes.

“Voting ‘no’ is extremely important,” said Sammie Hedwall, who along with her husband was watching the election results come in Tuesday night. “Personally, I have a 1-year-old. Even though this doesn’t give (gays and lesbians) the right to get married, some day if she chooses to, I’d like her to have the right to marry whoever she wants.”

James Abel said he got an interesting letter in the mail the other day. It was from his grandmother. It said she didn’t understand his “lifestyle” choice, and included a six-page letter from her church she thought would help guide him down the right path.

Able said those words were tough to hear from his grandmother. But as he watched some of the results filter in, including many that showed thousands voted “no” like he did, he felt heartened.

“If it fails, I’ll be proud to be a Minnesotan,” Abel said.

Kelly Meier, host of the gathering, said she was really hoping the amendment would fail because she says it’s regressive.

“Ten years from now, this place we live is going to be a very different place,” Meier said.

Across town at the headquarters for the Allen Quist campaign, the Republican candidate for Congress, the mood was different.

At the time we spoke with them, some TV news outlets were suggesting the amendment looked like it was headed for failure. They were disappointed but didn’t seem to be as emotionally tied to the vote some on the other side are.

“I’m surprised,” amendment supporter Carol Stevenson said when the amendment looked like it would fail.

She said she thought people understood that the question on the ballot was about amending the state’s constitution, not whether to legalize it or not.

Even so, it wasn’t the most important question on her ballot that day.

“It was just part of the package,” she said.

Sean Peskach of North Mankato was also among those who voted “yes.” He said his was a “definitional vote,” meaning he felt the amendment was necessary to put a definition of marriage into the constitution as a union of one man and one woman.

He acknowledged that, for the people who are voting “no,” the amendment is a much more emotional issue.

“A yes vote still leaves open the option for civil unions,” he said.