There were more questions than time at the Constitutional amendment public forum Oct. 1 at the Plymouth Creek Center.
Five panelists presented background on the proposed marriage amendment and Voter ID amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot in Minnesota.
The panelists included: Kathy Bonnifield who is the Executive Director for Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey, Leah Solo who is the Political Director of Minnesotans United for All Families, John Swanson of Plymouth who has worked on many boards in the region and John Rouleau who is the Grassroots Field Director for Protect My Vote.
Plymouth Human Rights Commission Chair Jessica K. Trites Rolle moderated the event. The Commission had discussed at its Aug. 2 meeting to have a public forum to discuss the controversial Voter ID and marriage amendments provided there was no city cost or organization time.
According to documents provided at the public forum, the proposed marriage amendment language to be seen on the ballot is: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"
According to documents provided at the public forum, the proposed voter identification amendment language to be seen on the ballot is: "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?"
These two amendments sparked lively conversation and debate at the forum in the Black Box theater in Plymouth.
Questions posed by the public at the forum for the panelists included asking if there has been bi-partisan support for the amendments in the past; how do homeless people vote; how many people have impersonated someone else to when voting in an election; who will pay for provisional costs of the Voter ID amendment; if (as one panelist said) gay marriage is not good for children and should therefore not be supported then why not also make divorce illegal as that seems to be bad for children to experience; does state law already ban same sex marriage?
Roleau and Lindsey disagreed on there being a case or cases in which someone was convicted of impersonating someone committing voter ID fraud.
"We really don't know [of those who have committed voter ID fraud], we only know about the ones that are caught," said Swanson.
Solo said sexual orientation has nothing to do with how well someone is a parent while Swanson referred to studies he has read that show same sex marriages are not good for children.
Meanwhile, Rouleau and Bonnifield disagreed on the costs that could be associated with the proposed voter ID amendment. Rouleau says the costs will be quite low while Bonnifield pointed to costs affecting locally including Hennepin County.
What do you think? What questions do you have about the two different constitutional amendments? What would you have asked or said at the Oct. 1 public forum? Share your comments below!