How the Sodomy Plank Got Deleted from the Minnesota GOP Platform
I got involved in Republican Party politics in 1998, and recall being pleasantly surprised to find no platform planks supporting the Minnesota Sodomy law. It sounds like this was removed in 1996.
Margaret Martin from Ourhouse Blog gives the background:
Man oh Man. The legislative session ended without an agreement on major legislation, including the bonding bill. This was actually a victory for fiscal conservatives, since the no agreement also meant no new stadium, no expansion of gambling and no stupid Northstar choo-choo train to nowhere. But during his first two years in office, the Governor reversed his campaign stances on the Stadium and Northstar and became a supporter of both. So, he just couldn't let the session die without another shot at these prizes. In the past few days he opened up the possibility of a special session by suggesting through the media that he was willing to throw a gay marriage ban over the side, a measure sponsored by conservative republican state legislators Sen. Michelle Bachman and Rep. Mary Liz Holberg. I won't get into the merits or not of this piece of legislation but this was an EXTREMELY BONEHEADED political move by the Governor and his peeps, whoever they are. Here we are, about a week out from the state convention, when Pawlenty's only work there should have been to give a rousing speech and get a standing O. But he managed to stick a finger in the eye of the social conservative delegates and create the possibility of havoc at the convention. The media will be enchanted with this, especially after the lovefest (or maybe I should say hatefest) that was the DFL state convention a few weeks ago.
One thing I know from attending MN GOP conventions over the past few years is the absolute worst thing that can happen is a debate over homosexuality. There are serious differences between the social conservatives and the libertarians in the GOP. My first state convention, maybe 1996? I remember a platform discussion about keeping sodomy on the books as a crime. There was the most horrifying parade of emotionalism on display for that debate. The nadir was a letter passed around on the floor proportedly from some paralyzed veteran explaining that the only kind of marital relations he could have with his wife involved what presently constituted sodomy under Minnesota law. Tensions run high, people with more opinions than sense get up and start babbling endlessly and people start to leave. Then questions are raised about quorum, legitimacy of the proceedings. It's a mess. We are faced with a complex situation this year, our President is in the middle of a tough re-election fight. We have several more tough fights in the US house this year and there is the real prospect of losing state house seats. I just hope the delegates can keep their eyes on the prize.
But they would have a right to be angry at Pawlenty. After all, a lot of them were convinced by a lot of us to vote for him and not Sullivan at the endorsing convention. Sullivan was the social conservatives choice. It was only after convincing them that Pawlenty's one "bad" vote that had a pro gay rights interpretation was based on a kind of lawyerly bad judgment. What do we tell them now? It will also be interesting to see what Michelle Bachman does. She is definitely Joan of Arc to the social conservative delegates. I reckon she'll be getting a standing O. They aren't going to let her get burned at the stake. And she is not one to back down. She is even talked about as a possible candidate for Congress next time around.
This is why more gays need to participate in Republican Party caucuses and conventions. Having about a dozen delegates and a disciplined floor strategy could make a real difference at the state convention - when the media eyes are on the party.