The Minnesota chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) says donors should pass over a political fund set up to defend lawmakers who supported gay marriage last session because some of those legislators ranked low on pro-choice issues.
In a statement released Tuesday night, MN NOW said MN United PAC is focusing only on the issue of gay marriage and not considering the other positions of candidates it plans to support. The political fund is affiliated with Minnesotans United for All Families, the group that led the successful effort to legalize gay marriage last session.
Earlier this summer, MN United PAC released the “Minnesota 15” — a list of 15 legislators who voted in favor of gay marriage and could now be vulnerable in the next election. That includes five Republicans and 10 rural House Democrats. MN United PAC has been seeking donations to support their campaigns for reelection since session ended, but MN NOW said 11 out of those 15 legislators did not did not receive 100 percent ratings on a pro-choice voting report card.
“Minnesota NOW and the Pro-Choice community as a whole contributed significant resources to the fight for marriage equality here in Minnesota. That is why we at Minnesota NOW were very disappointed to hear that the Minnesotans United PAC screens their candidates focused singularly on the issue of marriage for same-sex couples and that they will be providing funding to several legislators who have a history of voting for anti-choice legislation,” the statement read. “We were told the Minnesotans United PAC will raise and spend resources to support legislators who voted for same-sex marriage – they have no other screens and are aware this model won’t work for all donors. We are truly saddened that the Minnesotans United PAC does not have our back when we need them. We are not equal until we are ALL equal.”
Instead of giving to Minnesotans United, the pro-choice and women’s right group said like-minded voters should donate to the Minnesota NOW PAC, the statement said.
“We encourage you to direct your financial support to the Minnesota NOW PAC which screens candidates on all of our six core issues: LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, economic justice, racial equality, constitutional equality and freedom from violence,” the statement read. “This will ensure your money is supporting a candidate that acts on all of your values, not just one.”
Project 515 executive director Ann Kaner-Roth, who is leading fundraising and campaign efforts for MN United PAC, said their coalition has always been “laser focused” on gay marriage.
“We’ve been very transparent all the way along about our strategy, which is strictly and solely about protecting legislators that voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage for all couples,” she said. “We have been laser focused on gaining the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Minnesota. That was the strength of this movement. The intent is to focus on those that focused on legalizing same sex marriage.”
The 11 lawmakers singled out by NOW includes Reps. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, Tim Faust, DFL-Hinckley, Roger Erickson, DFL-Baudette, John Ward, DFL-Brainerd, Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, Jay McNamar, DFL-Elbow Lake, Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury, David FitzSimmons, R-Albertville and Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover.