Reporting Esme Murphy
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Election Day 2012 is just nine weeks from Tuesday, and no issue is creating more debate in Minnesota than the constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.
That debate is also creating some tensions at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, where the Vote Yes and Vote No booths are within a few hundred feet of each other.
On Sunday, a small group of supporters from opposing sides got into a fight. A Vote No supporter was hospitalized with an arm injury and cited for disorderly conduct; a Vote Yes supporter was arrested for fifth-degree assault.
Both sides believe the amendment race is close, and that is why they are pulling out all the stops.
The Vote Yes supporters say they have waited until the State Fair to begin their public push.
“They are just really happy to see us out here,” said the campaign’s Rosie Huray. “They have seen a lot of Vote Nos, and they were like: ‘We have been trying to find the Vote Yes people.’”
The Vote Yes campaign has been giving out free T-shirts. Five seminary students from St. Paul snapped them up on Monday.
“We are very supportive of marriage between a man and a woman,” said John Verly, one of the seminary students.
Vote No supporters lingered outside the Vote Yes booth debating and listening. Vote No supporter Tracy Steiner said she just wants to find out why the Vote Yes supporters don’t want gay people to get married.
Vote No organizers say the reception has exceeded expectations. The last state-wide survey poll in late July gave the Vote Yes backers a substantial lead. Fifty-two percent of voters said they will vote for the amendment and 37 percent said they would vote against it.
Richard Carlbom, of the Vote No campaign, said he thinks that voters, at the moment, are pretty evenly divided.
“If I had to guess, I think it is probably tied at 48-48. It is absolutely close,” he said. “If the election were held today, we would likely lose. So in order to make up this ground over the next 64 days, we need to do everything we can.”
Both sides agree that polling on this issue is tricky, because if voters choose to skip the amendment question it counts as a no vote. Supporters of the amendment are trying hard to spread the word about that at the State Fair.