A letter signed by 63 faculty members of the University of Minnesota Law School criticizes legislators for pushing a ballot initiative to amend the state’s constitution to prohibit gay marriage. The professors argue that such a ban is unnecessary given that marriages between same-sex couples are already illegal in the state.
“It is an evasion to say that the proposed amendment should be placed on the ballot simply to allow a popular vote,” the letter states. “State legislators have an obligation under Minnesota’s constitutional amendment process to exercise independent judgment about whether a constitutional amendment is needed, advisable, and worth the expenditure of time and resources it would consume. State legislators have historically fulfilled that obligation. Very few proposed amendments ever reach the ballot. Far from being a worthwhile use of legislators’ and the public’s attention, the proposed amendment would be a wasteful and harmful diversion away from the state’s immediate need to focus on many other pressing problems.”
Only 16 faculty members did not add their names to the letter. But Dale Carpenter, a U of M law school professor who specializes in sexual orientation and the law, says that doesn’t necessarily mean that they oppose its content.
“We did this in a very short period of time,” Carpenter tells PIM. “This is the list as it stands. It does not preclude others from adding their names.”
The proposed ballot initiative has cleared committees in both the House and Senate. If passed by both chambers the gay marriage prohibition would be on the ballot in 2012.