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10/22/2012

Minnesota for Marriage tries to turn equality backers into sign-destroying radicals; it's as weak-minded as it is predictable

by Jeremy Hooper

Last night, while driving home through an area of New Jersey where the Democratic vote comes in at around 85% in any given election, I came across all kinds of signs for U.S. Senator Bob Menendez' reelection campaign. Many of the signs, which align the candidate with the President and against the values of the Tea Party, were as nice and intact as the campaign workers intended them to be. Others, however, were downright decimated. Some of them seem like they were damaged naturally, due to inclement weather or perhaps motorist recklessness. But many of them seemed to have been deliberately destroyed. Ripped. Defaced.

That sometimes happens in campaigns. It's not really a sign of the mood of the area, the general tone of the opposition, or the merits of the candidacy. Often times, it speaks to nothing more than teenagers' Friday night boredom, a lone rogue agent's need to check his or her rage, or just the fact that the signs were there in public view that led to their altering (*see any defaced park bench or subway poster for other common examples). This kind of thing happens across all political stripes, in every neighborhood, in just about any campaign. A price of democracy—one that we hope will be low, but a price that never comes in at zero.

Most campaigns get this. But of all of the campaigns I've covered, LGBT or otherwise, I have never—never, ever, ever, ever—seen a team of strategists try so hard to turn these kinds of isolated incidents into campaign talking points as I have with the so-called Minnesota For Marriage campaign. For months now, campaign communications guy Andy Parrish has been tweeting out all kinds of pictures of supposed harassment, as if these rare instances are (a) somehow indicative of the "nastiness" on the pro-equality side, and (b) confined to his side. Here's the latest game of game-playing, sent out via official campaign press release:

Minneapolis, MN – Yesterday, a Vote Yes billboard in Minneapolis was vandalized. The destruction demonstrates the kind of environment Minnesotans can expect if marriage is redefined in Minnesota.

The vandalism came on the heels of a new TV ad by Minnesota for Marriage citing similar examples in six other states that have legalized same-sex marriage including Washington, D.C., and Canada. Like the vandalized billboard, the examples show how citizens, like most Minnesotans who believe marriage is the unique union of one man and one woman, are certainly not living in a “live, let live” society.

“This kind of disrespect is a perfect example of what Minnesotans, who simply believe marriage is between one man and one woman, can expect if marriage is redefined,” said John Helmberger, Chairman of Minnesota for Marriage.
KEEP READING: Another Example of “Not Live and Let Live” [Minnesota For Marriage]

It is truly unbelievable, deeply cynical, wholly unfair chessboard maneuvering by these backers of discrimination. They have no clue why any of these obviously rare incidents have happened. There are the reasons I mentioned above, but also, for all they know, many of them are the work of people on their side who are trying to make a point. Some could be supportive of LGBT rights, yes, some others could just be bored. You just don't know. This unknown is the reason why most campaigns don't choose to politicize something like this, especially without some sort of backing evidence from local authorities that shows a real uptick in maliciousness.

But leave it to this campaign of unrepentant truth-twisting, as reliant on anti-intellectualism as it has been, to use this as not only an example of "mean" campaigning but also as some sort of convoluted crystal ball that shows how Minnesota's more LGBT-accepting future might look. Never mind that these incidents, as rare as they are, are happening at a time when Minnesota doesn't even have a marriage equality bill moving forward, much less marriage equality itself. No, no—Minnesota for Marriage has a reason-bankrupt script to sell to the public, so faux victimization is the order of the day. That being the case, every man and woman in the state who supports more fair-minded civil policy as it applies to same-gender couples, or who simply opposes the kind of legally-sanctioned discrimination that MN For Marriage is backing, is told that we must speak to the merits and motivations of campaign sign destruction.

It's a truly disgusting, nakedly political, telling thin-skinned, rationally weak trap that they are setting for the purpose of cynical vote-getting. And, like always, the intention is to make LGBT people and our supporters seems like a nasty "other." Like militants. Like radicals. Like threats to the greater good. It's the exact same narrative the anti-LGBT side has been pushing us on since the days of Anita Bryant (and even before). They need us to be something other than what we are so that their mean-spirited, divisive war against certain taxpayers' civil rights won't look like what it is.

DON'T BE FOOLED BY THESE DISTRACTIONS, MINNESOTA!

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