In news breaking just this afternoon, Minnesota Republicans will propose and presumably pass a constitutional amendment to be voted on in the 2012 election that would prohibit gay marriage. (Click here for the initial story.) They are to be commended for their job on this.
Yet at the same time, we should be wary of any ulterior motives. I rarely believe that elected officials act out of the conviction of their principles or the goodness of their hearts. Usually there is an unknown motive that needs to be found and understood.
Oftentimes, the case with marriage amendments is that Republicans propose them not because they believe in their legal value or moral virtue, but because they need to mask what they are doing in other areas of government. They need a reason to tell disgruntled constituents back home, "Well, I might be doing a bad job and voting for bigger government 95% of the time, but you should still vote for me because at least I did something right!"
One indicator that such an explanation might be in order here is that in the Associated Press story published late this afternoon (click here), Rep. Steve Gottwalt was quoted as the championing House Republican for the legislation. Many will remember that Rep. Gottwalt proposed a health insurance exchange earlier this year in order to hasten the implementation of Obamacare. He will need a similarly stunning achievement to bring to Republicans back home, or he may have a serious morale problem on his hands.
If this is part of a greater effort to go in the right direction, Republicans should succeed in more than one respect. If it is only a cover for their performance on other issues, it may not suffice in this year of heightened awareness.