In exactly one week, Americans will have the chance to either re-elect incumbents or to vote for new candidates for several seats on all levels of government. Specific issues in Minnesota, though, include the two amendments to the Minnesota Constitution that would require voter photo identification to vote and to completely ban gay marriage in the state.
As a voter who cares about social justice, voting rights and democracy, I will be proudly voting against both amendments.
The voter ID amendment appears to be “common sense,” as supporters often espouse, but when we actually dive into the issues surrounding the amendment, we find that engraving it into the Constitution would have horrible implications.
Simply put, the amendment creates more barriers for citizens to get to the polls. The groups that would be harmed include minorities, the poor, the elderly, those in the military and college students. Although I would not personally be affected, I clearly see that thousands of Minnesotans could possibly be disenfranchised.
Apart from the devastating effects that the amendment would have on turnout, we find that the supposed goal of the amendment — to reduce voter fraud — actually would not do so at all. Minnesota has virtually no known cases of voter identification fraud, and when it has happened, they do so not through voter impersonation but through other means. Therefore, the amendment would not even address the issue when it sparingly comes up.
So, one must ask: Why is the Republican Party pushing for these measures across the nation? It is rather simple. The GOP wants to suppress the vote of largely liberal demographics. Seeing as how conservative economic and social policies are hard to pass in many states, especially in a state like Minnesota, the Republican Party may be trying to undermine certain demographics’ civic duty by suppressing those that disagree with them.
But there is another amendment that must also be opposed: the marriage amendment.
Marriage is a fundamental right, and conservative politicians have been trying to suppress it for different groups for years. Sixty years ago, many were against interracial marriage because it “undermined the sanctity of marriage.” The same bigoted argument is now being used against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Marriage, despite its religious history, is a legal recognition of a bond between two people that provides numerous public symbolic and economic benefits. Thus, if it is a public institution, it should affect everyone equally.
Conservatives have also attempted to argue that if same-sex marriage is allowed — as if passing the amendment would somehow make same-sex marriage legal — soon there will be bestial marriages. This is a slippery-slope logical fallacy that clearly has no basis in reality. This propagates old stereotypes of LGBT individuals being associated with sexual taboos.
Not only do I encourage you to partake in our democratic system next week, but I also urge you to vote on the progressive side of history. Please use your vote to support basic voting and marriage rights.