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Reality Check: Amendment Ad Makes Questionable Claims

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –The fight to put a gay marriage ban in the Minnesota Constitution took a new turn Thursday. A TV ad from the main group supporting the amendment warned of dire consequences if it fails.

The ad shows places in the United States and Canada where gay marriage is legal. But the ad is deceptive.

Minnesota’s not voting to legalize gay marriage.

“When same sex marriage was imposed elsewhere, it has not been live and let live,” says the ad, by Minnesota for Marriage. “People who believe marriage is one man and one woman have faced consequences.”

IN FACT:

What the ad asserts is not the question Minnesota’s voting on. Minnesota voters will be asked to put into the Constitution an amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Even though gay marriage is already illegal in Minnesota. Putting it in the constitution would make it MORE illegal.

And if Minnesotans reject the amendment, gay marriage will still be illegal.

The ad continues: “People who believe marriage is one man and one woman have faced consequences. Small businesses fined. Individuals fired. Charities closed down.”

The ad makes it seem as if there are widespread persecutions, and shows news articles with headlines like: “Same Sex ‘Marriage’ Law forces DC Catholic Charities to Close Adoption Program” and “Toronto Broadcaster Fired After Tweets on Sean Avery, Same Sex Marriage Debate” and others.

But it tells only part of each story.

-Washington D.C. didn’t force Catholic Charities to shut down. Catholic Charities shut itself down rather than work with the city to help gay couples adopt children.

-The business owner who was fined?

He opposes gay marriage, but allowed them at his facility– his lawyer called it a “misunderstanding” by an employee who did not speak on his behalf.

-And the freelance sportscaster? It’s true: He was fired for tweeting support for traditional marriage after New York Rangers hockey player Sean Avery expressed support for gay marriage.

The ad also references a Massachusetts school fight: “Same sex marriage taught to young children in elementary school. And parents have no right to be notified or take their children out of class that day.”

The basic facts are true, but out of context. Parents at a Massachusetts elementary school who believe homosexuality is immoral wanted prior notice before gay- themed books were read in class.

They claimed a violation of their religious rights. But a federal court denied their claim, but not because of same sex marriage. The court said it’s not a federal issue. If the parents want to change policy, it said, they should run for the school board.

Here’s what you need to know:

Putting a traditional definition of marriage into the constitition makes it harder to change marriage laws in the future. But defeating the amendment doesn’t make gay marriage legal.

It leaves in place current Minnesota law, and a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling declaring gay marriage illegal.

 Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

 Minnesota for Marriage ad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqO9_I2akOQ

Minnesota Marriage Laws

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=517.01

https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=517.03

Action in Minnesota

http://www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/issues/issues.aspx?issue=gay

Proposed MN Constitutional Amendment

http://www.sos.state.mn.us/index.aspx?page=1719

Catholic Charities Ends D.C. Adoption Services

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/same-sex_marriage_law_forces_d.c._catholic_charities_to_close_adoption_program/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030203947.html

 http://www.morelaw.com/verdicts/case.asp?n=07-1528&s=MA&d=35252

Massachusetts Lawsuit, Court Decision Over Gay Themed Books

http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/pdf.opinions/07-1528-01A.pdf

http://davidparkerfund.org/html/lawsuit.html

Wildflower Inn Settles Gay Marriage Lawsuit

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-24/vermont-inn-2-women-settle-gay-marriage-lawsuit

New York Rangers Star Supports Gay Marriage 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/sports/hockey/08avery.html

Sportscaster Fired After Tweets on Gay Marriage

http://sports.espn.go.com/new-york/nhl/news/story?id=6532954

Minnesota for Marriage

http://www.minnesotaformarriage.com/

Minnesotans United for All Families

http://mnunited.org/

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