Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vote No, Twice.

In the state of Minnesota, there are currently two items up for a citizen majority vote.  I believe, along with, what seems to me to be a fairly bipartisan crowd, that these two issues are irrelevant to the real needs of the people of our state. 

I think these two amendments to our Constitution are superfluous, expensive and completely unnecessary.  They make me wonder what IS being passed through while all of us are worrying ourselves sick about the questions these amendments bring up? 

But then, I'm cynical.  And a bit of a curmudgeon.  With lots of opinions.  Most of which make sense.  And they follow below.

The first is the Minnesota Marriage Amendment:

A Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, Amendment 1, will appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot in Minnesota as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.[1] The measure would define marriage in the Minnesota Constitution as between one man and one woman in the state.[2]

Unlike previous, unsuccessful attempts to place a marriage amendment on the ballot, the 2012 measure may leave open the possibility of same-sex civil unions.[3]

And the second item is to require photo identification at voting polls.

The question to be presented to the voters is as follows:[4]
Photo Identification Required for Voting.

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"
  • YES
  • NO

Constitutional Changes

The proposed amendment would amend Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution. [5]


While I wholeheartedly support the ability of citizens to choose the laws of their society.  These two issues or items are NOT changes to laws of our society (like how it is illegal to text while driving), but an alteration of the State Constitution. Laws and Constitution are similar in some ways, but overall, quite different.

The fundamental law, written or unwritten, that establishes the character of a government by defining the basic principles to which a society must conform; by describing the organization of the government and regulation, distribution, and limitations on the functions of different government departments; and by prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of its sovereign powers.

Our state's constitution reads as follows (a timely and time consuming read, for sure):

or in a more original version, you can find the Republican Version and the Democratic Version at these two links.

Republican Version:

Democratic Version:

Who knew our state has political parties that couldn't agree even way back then?  (Sad, in my mind, but whatevs).

Okay, so in all honesty, I skimmed these.  Who really cares about all the legal jargon from the 1850's slapped around in these documents?  But I can find, easily, solid evidence in both versions that the State Constitution was never intended to deny the rights of one group.   Like the quote below, for instance.

taken from the Bill of Rights: Republican Version: Sec 16 The enumeration of rights in this constitution shall not be construed to deny or impair others retained by and inherent in the people. The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed, nor shall any man be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any religeous or ecclesiastical ministry against his consent, nor shall any control of, or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship, but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State. Nor shall any money be drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any religious societies, or religious or Theological Seminaries.

So is marriage a legal term?  Not really.  A more proper legal term for what we generally consider "marriage" would be civil union.  But whatever the term you want to use, marriage is

Definition of MARRIAGE (by Merriam-Webster)

a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage marriage
Please recognize that within the definition is the phrase "a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law". 

I think this is a legal agreement between two consenting adults.  I think this union provides a legal security for both adults in so far as creating a recognized bond - allowing them to share resources, rely on each other through illness and take legally bonding responsibility for the other.  Something most straight married couples don't even think too much about, 'cuz it's just "marriage" and doesn't have to be redefined.  

Okay, so you might not agree with me that God created all of us, and within that term "all of us" is the equally lovely and horrible group who are homosexual.  We may even be far apart in the belief that, through God's creation of us, homosexuality is not a sin.  Our nation is a great one that allows each of us to believe whatever religion, cult,  spirit guide, or none of the above that we wish.  Our laws are not legitimized through religious texts. 

Feel free to follow the rules and regulations of your religious beliefs.  But please keep your religion out of state law, especially the Consti-frickin-tution.  The Constitution was & is designed as a framework for governing a society.  NOT for denying rights to a segment of society.  Laws can be struck down.  Constitutions need to be amended.  Amended like saying,' Oops, sorry we said all that before, now we need to change that a bit.'  You can't erase an amendment, just amend the things that a previous amendment did.  Seems kinda dumb.

Oh, and our current laws already deny the legal marriage between two consenting adults of the same gender.  So why all the hoopla about this now?  An amendment wouldn't change anything.  Either way, we still don't have same-sex marriage in Minnesota.  The amendment, as it reads currently, is NOT a way to choose to have that.  So we are all spending loads of time and money to combat or support something that is, from it's inception, completely unnecessary.  Glad to know we were dupped. 

Issue #2:  On the issue of Voter Identification.   

Within our state's Bill of Rights, the preamble to our state's constitution that 

17      No religious test or amount of property shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust under the state. No religious test or amount of property shall ever be required as a qualification of any voter at any election in this State; nor shall any person be rendered incompetent to give evidence in any court of law or equity in consequence of his opinion upon the subject of religion.

No amount of property shall ever be required as a qualification of any voter at any election in this State.  How is this an issue?  Well, it seems that some would have you believe that there is a serious problem of voter fraud.  This is mere speculation and grandstanding on the idea that fear is the most motivating force possible.  

From the League of Women Voters, which I have found to be a very balanced, non-politically motivated group, has said:

Voter fraud is rampant in our elections, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the winner.
Fact: Actual cases of fraud are rare. There have been many investigations, but few cases have been substantiated. Then-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer reported that only 14 people out of approximately 2,800,000 voters fraudulently cast ballots during the 2004 election in Minnesota– a fraud rate of .0005 percent. 

 So again, we don't have a problem, and everyone is all up in arms that we need to spend millions (of state money, NOT already considering the millions tied up in the support or combat against this issue in public opinion/propaganda) to save ourselves from our own stupidity.  True, voter fraud is an issue with felons.  Yup.  So design state issued identification that lists if they are a felon or not.  Problem solved and we can all move on. 

 I say Vote No Twice.  And move on.  Speak to your neighbors again.  Call your relatives who disagree with you.  Make nice again.  (I'll try.)  And keep asking questions...

Like, what are all those politicians working on while we are all worrying ourselves sick about all this?  (Not to mention, driving each other crazy with insults, name-calling and across-the-board nincompoopery.  Myself included.)  That is what I want to know.  So that will be my next post. 

What are all those politicians up to when we aren't looking (because we're all so tied up in the commercial attack ads and fighting about the two unnecessary amendments) ??


Monday, February 13, 2012

Celebrating Love

These are two young ladies who amaze me daily.  The older is my niece, and the younger is my daughter.  Each is so different, yet both are so strong, loving and creative.  And I love each of them so very deeply. 

Girls scare me.  I love being a woman myself, but I'm not really girly.  I don't have a great relationship with my own mother, and I have honest fears that I will not be a good mother to my daughter.  But then, I have so much stuff to "not do" with a daughter, I am pretty sure I can do a decent job. 

My brother, this lovely lady's dad, is down-deep a great person.  He's very intelligent, creative and likes to work hard... at times.  On the flip side, he's an alcoholic (recovering at times and not at others) and often gets wrapped up in his own stuff.  I know that his daughter is dealing with lots of issues with her dad, and I'm really having a hard time getting over the feeling that I would like to kick his butt.  She's such an amazing person - which isn't a reason why I think her dad should treat her better (heck, he should treat himself better so he could be a better dad, but that's another rant...) - but she really is.  "J" is so smart, creative, social, caring, honest, sensitive, loving... and she is so amazingly strong. 

If you are a parent, do you ever get that "Momma Bear" feeling?  That "don't mess with MY child or I will cut you" kind of reaction?  I know that "J" has a mother who loves her dearly, as well as so many aunts, grandparents, cousins, and friends.  All there to support her and take care of her.  But it's all so complicated when someone you love is doing something shitty to someone you love and want to care for and protect. 

I'm not sure what to do next, other than make more of a presence in "J"'s life.  I don't know that it would do any good to kick my brother's ass.  Other than make me feel a bit better for about five minutes.  I guess one positive thing I can do is add a bit more driving into my life and make "J" a priority in my life.  And then, I get the bonus of getting to know her better, and hoping for a closer relationship.  Nothing bad in any of that.  Maybe it's one of those things that kids do: when only a few kids are together, they don't really care what the other is up to.  When lots of kids are interested in what one kid is doing, that one kid seems so much more exciting.  I can only hope her dad realizes someday soon just how interested I am in this girl, how so many people are interested in this girl, and how much he is missing. 

So this Valentine's Day, I will celebrate the love I have for these girls.  Celebrate how lucky my daughter is to have a dad who loves her like crazy and will always be there for her.  And how lucky everyone in my family is to have this phenomenal teenager as part of our nutty bunch.  And I will keep all the rest in my prayers that someone who has handled this stuff for a millenia can take over what I can't figure out.