So I’m in the final hours of my Master program, cranking out my last research paper before taking the walk Sunday. I figured I’d share the intro for my final PR research project. The paper is titled: Framing Gay Marriage and is in response to the November 2012 marriage amendment ballot in MN. Enjoy! Of course, I’ll post the whole thing when it’s complete, edited and ready to go.
Framing Gay Marriage
In May 2011, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage in the state’s constitution as being only between a man and a woman. Earlier that month the Senate passed the same proposal leaving it up to the voters of Minnesota to decide the fate of more than 10,000 same-sex couples living in Minnesota as of the last census.
In a state that already extends hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners, prohibits housing discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, allows same-sex partners to adopt, prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, has hate-crime law classifications that include sexual orientation, and laws that address discrimination or harassment in the educational system tied to sexual orientation, many pro-marriage equality groups were left scratching their heads. How could a state, so widely seen as progressive, take such an aggressive measure to potentially limit the rights of LGBT partners?
The reality is, that while legislation that implicitly supports LGBT rights exists in the land of 10,000 lakes, there exists a larger concentration of legal considerations that do not imply protection for LGBT couples and only extends protection to couples classified as married.
Project515, a Minnesota non profit aimed at battling inequalities in Minnesota state law, have outlined a multitude of grievances from issues of life and death to implicit discrimination to same-sex partners. For example, MN Statute 3.7392 aims to define a survivor of the I-35W bridge collapse and who thereby is entitled to the Survivors Compensation bill. The Statute reads as the surviving spouse or next of kin of a deceased survivor who would be entitled to bring an action under section 573.02. A same-sex partner would not be able to make a claim (Project515).
Countless times throughout the legal structure of the state of Minnesota, same-sex couples are not seen as equal in the eyes of the law. As a result, the ability of same-sex couples to achieve legal recognition of marriage in this state becomes a matter of substantial importance to a sizeable segment of the state’s population.
Leading the fight for marriage equality are a number of non-profit organizations including OutFront Minnesota, Project515 and Minnesotans United for All Families. All three organizations worked hard leading up to both the Senate and House votes to inform legislators and compel constituents to do the same, to not pass the ballot measure. However, since the failure to stop the ballot measure, all three have immediately taken to organizing and developing communication strategy to support marriage equality in the November 2012 election.
What concerns marriage equality proponents, is the number of times, when left to a public vote, marriage amendments have been passed either defining marriage as between a man and a woman or explicitly banning same-sex marriage. Arizona(2008), Tennessee and Colorado(2006), among others have all passed marriage amendments.
As the fight for marriage equality heats up, it’s worthwhile examining the historic debate as it played out in two other, often-viewed progressive states, California (Proposition “8”) and New York (A. 8354).
This essay aims to explore the failures of marriage equality supporters in California and the successes of marriage equality supporters in New York as a means of establishing a framework for successful message design and communication tactics to inform potential efforts for the Minnesota pro-marriage equality movement.