They have a catchy title and they are giving away money. Step right up. All you have to do you is convince five friends to be bigots. How could this latest scheme to keep same-sex couples from marrying fail to come On Our Radar?
The campaign is called the “Drive for Five” and it’s the brainchild of Minnesota for Marriage, a misnomer if there ever was one, since what this group is really about is restricting marriage for any couple who can’t claim ownership of both a penis and a vagina. This week the group announced they would be auctioning off hundred-dollar Visa Gift Cards. All you have to do to be eligible for the drawing is to fill in a lovely blue entry form with the names and contact information of five of your most homophobic friends. The friends in turn, must pledge their support of an amendment to Minnesota’s Constitution banning same-sex marriage, which will be on the ballot in November 2012.
In the era of Citizens United and multi-million dollar campaigns, I suppose no one will be shocked that even on the grass-roots level, money is replacing conviction as the reason to vote. If “special interests” can buy a candidate, why not a voter? Well, the why not would be there are laws against it, and to be sure, Minnesota does have a “vote buying” statute intended to curb such practices:
Bribery, advancing money, and treating prohibited. A person who willfully, directly or indirectly, advances, pays, gives, promises, or lends any money, food, liquor, clothing, entertainment, or other thing of monetary value, or who offers, promises, or endeavors to obtain any money, position, appointment, employment, or other valuable consideration, to or for a person, in order to induce a voter to refrain from voting, or to vote in a particular way, at an election, is guilty of a felony.
There it is in black and white. I’ll bet you’re ready to make popcorn to enjoy with the perp walk. But wait. The Minnesota for (Restricting) Marriage group thinks it has found a loophole. By not promising each signer a payout, just the chance of a payout, and by using the phrase “pledge your support in November 2012” rather than using the word “vote” they believe they have found a winning formula to skirt the law. It’s becoming the great American pastime not to mention a growth industry for lawyers; finding legal ways to do what lawmakers intended to make illegal.
I hope a court challenge to Minnesota for Marriage’s Drive for Five will be forthcoming. And I hope supporters of unrestricted marriage in Minnesota will launch their own aggressive campaign arguing against enshrining bigotry into their Constitution. I’m anxious to see what the next move will be and who will make it. So until November 2012, when the vote on the constitutional amendment is taken, the antics of groups like Minnesota for Marriage and their Drive for Five (Bigots) campaign will remain, On Our Radar.
Jean Ann Esselink is straight friend to the gay community. Proud and loud Liberal. Closet writer of political fiction. Black sheep agnostic Democrat from a conservative Catholic family. Living in Northern Oakland County Michigan with Puck the Wonder Beagle.
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