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Latino Voters Courted By Both Sides Of Marriage Amendment

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Marriage Amendment, which is on the ballot this November, aims to change the state constitution by defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The Amendment has also divided many Minnesotans.

Both sides of the debate know every vote matters, and they’re taking unique steps to reach out to all Minnesotans, especially Latino voters.

St. Stephen’s Church in Minneapolis has one of the largest Latino congregations in the metro.

As a Catholic church, St. Stephens is part of the movement to pass the Marriage Amendment. Every Sunday the congregation recites a prayer for marriage in both Spanish and English.

Maria Doty of St. Stephens says the prayer’s message is simple.

“Go about this issue with love, but also acknowledging the importance of family and what it was meant to be,” Doty said.

Doty and her husband both serve as parish captain at their church, and are spreading the importance of voting ‘yes’ in November.

Winnie Okafor, from the group Minnesotans for Marriage, says the church is the best place to reach Latino voters.

“A lot of these people come from strong traditional roots and they want to preserve even in America some of those great values that they bring from home,” Okafor said.

Minnesotans for all Families, which opposes the amendment, also works with churches. But according to member Christian Ucles, they’re taking the extra step of contacting Latino voters at home through a weekly phone bank.

“We’ve been doing them now for about a month,” Okafor said. “This is the response that I get. ‘Why should I care about what happens to two people behind closed doors?'”

Minnesota’s Latino voting population is about 100 thousand. A recent national poll shows 54 percent of Latinos favor same-sex marriage.

Around the same percent of Latinos in California voted to ban same-sex marriage in 2008.

Given those conflicting numbers, it’s easy to see why both sides say the Latino vote is crucial.

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