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A proposed law that would allow certain businesses to refuse services based upon religious grounds is drawing the ire of the advocates who fought to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

When he describes his proposal, Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-Baxter) immediately wants people to know what his “religious freedom” bill was not. “This is not a bill to discriminate against gays and lesbians. This is not a bill to prevent a gay couple from getting the services they need for a wedding service,” are the first words out of his mouth. “This bill is not a bill to end gay marriage.”

OutFront Minnesota Executive Director Monica Meyer sees it as an attack on human rights. “Our opponents are continuing their attempts to roll back gains we’ve made for LGBTQ equality. Minnesotans are rightfully proud of our state as a leader in eliminating discrimination, and this bill would take us in the wrong direction.”

Gazelka says his bill is different than the recent “religious freedom” bill that was passed and then amended in Indiana. That bill broadly covered many types of businesses. His focuses only on wedding related businesses. It says no business or clergy member must provide goods or services “if that action would cause the individual or business to violate a sincerely held belief regarding whether marriage is only the union of one man or one woman.”

The law is targeted to protect small companies with with 20 or fewer employees, and businesses may not refuse service if it presents “substantial hardship” to potential customers.

Preview of 2016 election issue?

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From The UpTake

Minnesota Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Delano) is a supporter of a bill in the Minnesota legislature to severely limit public access to video data collected by body cams. Under this proposal, the police would control release of theses images.

McDonald says, “Who are we trying to protect with body cams? If we don’t trust the police to protect and serve, then we have a deeper problem in our nation. Deeper problem. So first we have to fix that, if that is a problem.”

McDonald thinks that body cams can be helpful in fixing that. He says squad car cams are a good example of “protecting the public and the police.”

McDonald says the bill would require blurring the faces of minors and others that do not wish to be seen before the video could be released. He admits that will be expensive.

Even though he wants the police to control the release of the images, McDonald sees the need for public access. “You know your police force is part of the public entity, part of the public service, so we pay taxes, so in theory we own part of that data.”

Poll

Do you trust the police to decide what to do with body cam video and data?

0%1 votes
97%100 votes
1%2 votes

| 103 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss


Minnesota's new Secretary of State Steve Simon is passionate about voting rights. So passionate he got choked up when speaking about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

Simon was speaking just after he was sworn in Monday at an inauguration ceremony for Minnesota's constitutional officers. He recalled that when the landmark federal act passed in 1965, it was very controversial. Present in the audience was one of the people who voted for the act — Walter Mondale.

"And Vice President Mondale knows, he was then U.S. Senator and was part of that delegation, the members of our (Minnsota congressional) delegation disagreed sharply on many prominent issues of the day: Vietnam, Medicare, immigration," said Simon.

"But when the roll was called on the voting rights act…," Simon's voice trailed off and he paused and struggled with his emotions. He then continued.
"Minnesota’s delegation spoke with one voice. All of our voting members — senators and representatives, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives — voted to affirm the fundamental right for all Americans to have a direct voice in their government. That is the Minnesota way.

"Now, it doesn’t mean we always agree with one another. It doesn’t mean that we set aside politics. It means we always remember that politics is the means to an end. Not an end in itself, especially when it comes to the fundamental right to vote."

Full transcript of Simon's speech and a poll on the Voting Rights Act after the jump.

Poll

Do you believe today's Congress could pass the Voting Rights Act?

15%130 votes
84%684 votes

| 814 votes | Vote | Results

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Charges of race baiting and incendiary politics flew in a debate between candidates for Minnesota secretary of state Tuesday night.

At issue is a proposal from Republican candidate Dan Severson who would like to take existing resources at the polls and use them to create an "express lane" for voters who have an ID. Democrat Steve Simon has criticized the proposal calling it a "warmed over version" of a voter photo ID proposal that was defeated at the polls in 2012. Simon also said the two lines would create a "separate but equal" system.

"I really don't support this idea of sort of a Lexus lane for voting or the so called express lane voting", Simon said in response to Severson's proposal. "First of all it seems to be intended to be a separate but equal system.  All I have to go on is Dan's own words when he characterized it on a Tea Party TV show in the spring. He said 'if you don't want to show an ID, be my guest. You can go over to the side and wait in line two hours in the cold. That's fine.' end quote.  

"I don't think that kind of sentiment has any place in the secretary of state's office.  And it doesn't even make sense, in the sense that 90 percent of people have IDs.  So wouldn't that be the long line? And wouldn't the people without IDs be the short line?  I don't think it's very well thought out."

Race Baiting and incendiary politics
Severson responded calling Simon's "separate but equal" phrase "race baiting". (more after the jump)

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Spend and Vote lets consumers vent their anger and make it count.

Remember how Walgreens was shamed into not moving its headquarters overseas and joining the corporate tax-dodging "inversion" movement? Walgreens' customers threatened to take their business elsewhere and the company backed away from its move.

Now Burger King is attempting to do the same thing by buying donut maker Tim Hortons and moving the company headquarters to Canada.

By doing so, it will avoid paying a lot of U.S. taxes and the burden will fall upon the citizens of the United States to make up.  Meanwhile, Burger King will keep raking in the money from U.S. sales.  They get to have it their way.

Or do they?

If enough people decide to stop eating at Burger King because of its unpatriotic move, perhaps the company will reconsider just like Walgreens did.  Consumer action may be the only weapon that can work as corporations have neutralized the government by purchasing gridlock in Washington, DC.

So here's a tool to help do that.  It's called Spend and Vote.  It's simple. Just use it to report every time you eat someplace instead of eating at Burger King.  Spend and Vote keeps track of the dollars Burger King is losing and puts up the score.

Of course if you think corporations should have the right to leave the country to avoid paying taxes but still get the benefits of doing business in the U.S. you can vote the other way too and give your business to Burger King because of their corporate drive to legally exploit tax loopholes.  Spend and Vote keeps track of that too.

Try it out and encourage your friends here and on Facebook to do the same.

Discuss


Minnesota Republican candidate for Governor Jeff Johnson says if elected he will slow the growth in the minimum wage. Not unexpected for a Republican, but the way he said it seemed to suggest workers were being paid low wages because they didn't want to have careers.

“The minimum wage should not be what anybody aspires to, they should aspire to a career. They should aspire to a job that allows them to raise a family. The minimum wage won’t do that.”

Johnson made the comments to the press a day after winning a plurality in a four candidate Republican primary that had very low voter turnout. The competing DFL primary which didn’t have as many competitive races attracted about 7,000 more voters. Johnson said he doesn’t see that as an indicator that he faces problems in his general election battle with Governor Mark Dayton.

“Republicans are not accustomed to primaries. We just don’t have them. We haven’t had one for 20 some years.”

Hot button building issue really not so big
Johnson also admitted that the spending on a new Senate office building is really a small amount in the big picture. “In the grand scheme of things its a small amount of money in the overall budget. But it’s a pretty important symbol as to where the priorities are right now with all DFL control and in the Dayton administration. I think people want to stop it.” Republicans have seized on the new building as a campaign issue.

Despite that, Johnson repeated that he would stop the stop the project, if practical. If it couldn’t be stopped he would find another use for the building.

Tuesday’s primary results sets up a Republican ticket for all state-wide offices that is all white and all male. Johnson’s running mate is Bill Kuisle. Governor Dayton’s (DFL) running mate is Tina Smith, a woman. His currently Lt. Governor is also a woman.

“I think it’s, it’s a little demeaning to suggest that women won’t vote for us because we happen to be two males,” Johnson told a reporter who raised the question.

Video of the entire press conference available at The UpTake.

Discuss
Clashing views on marriage equality in Minnesota
A movie about how marriage equality prevailed in Minnesota shows how "unwinnable" elections can be won. See a preview of it at Netroots Nation on Friday.
Everything you think you know about persuading voters may be wrong.

This is the hard-learned lesson LGBT activists discovered after 29 straight defeats in fighting conservatives who wanted to write discrimination into state constitutions and laws across the nation banning same-sex marriage.

In nearly every campaign, they outspent the conservatives by a large margin, had motivated volunteers and used impeccable logic about why their side was right.

And every time, they were blown out of the water when conservatives scared the hell out of people by running ads saying if gay marriage was legal, your third grade kids would be taught how "a princess could marry a princess."

Every time, people voted to protect their kids.  Conservatives won — but not because they had reduced their message to a few words. They won because they scared people into thinking emotionally instead of logically. And it worked every time… until 2012, when Minnesota became the first state to reject a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — and then in a dramatic turn, approved marriage equality just a few months later.

This, even though poll after poll showed the "one man, one woman" constitutional amendment was going to be a "slam dunk" win for Republicans and drive voter turnout so they could increase their majorities in the Minnesota legislature and win the U.S. Senate race.

The amendment did drive voter turnout… but in the wrong direction.  Republicans lost control of both houses of the Minnesota legislature, its U.S. Senate candidate lost in a landslide and a Republican-authored constitutional amendment to require photo ID to vote also lost.

What changed the game in Minnesota?  Yes, the national mood on marriage equality was changing — President Obama said in 2012 his view on same-sex marriage had "evolved."  Yes, it was a presidential election year that generally favored Democrats. But something else had to be happening to make such a dramatic turn — something that made Minnesota the tipping point in this epic civil rights battle.  Something that prevented people from getting scared and instead led them to make a logical decision.

That "something" is documented in a movie about the marriage equality battle in Minnesota that shows how progressives can win elections that used to be "unwinnable".  I will talk about the movie and show a few key clips from it at Netroots Nation this Friday at 11am as part of "Reel Action to Real Action: A Showcase of Activism and Film" in room 142C.

When campaign volunteer Steven Davis was told how the Minnesota campaign was going to be run, he was not happy with the approach. "I think if you approach people and rationally talk about rights that the average person will react rationally," said Davis. "I was not crazy about that plan.  But I was very wrong."

Even if you've been doing it wrong for years, you can win when you get it right.  It's one of the inspiring things about this movie that has a real Hollywood type story to tell — the good guys win against impossible odds, and love conquers all.

Discuss
Clashing views on marriage equality in Minnesota
A movie about how marriage equality prevailed in Minnesota shows how "unwinnable" elections can be won. See a preview of it at Netroots Nation on Friday.
Everything you think you know about persuading voters may be wrong.

This is the hard-learned lesson LGBT activists discovered after 29 straight defeats in fighting conservatives who wanted to write discrimination into state constitutions and laws across the nation banning same-sex marriage.

In nearly every campaign, they outspent the conservatives by a large margin, had motivated volunteers and used impeccable logic about why their side was right.

And every time, they were blown out of the water when conservatives scared the hell out of people by running ads saying if gay marriage was legal, your third grade kids would be taught how "a princess could marry a princess."

Every time, people voted to protect their kids.  Conservatives won — but not because they had reduced their message to a few words. They won because they scared people into thinking emotionally instead of logically. And it worked every time… until 2012, when Minnesota became the first state to reject a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — and then in a dramatic turn, approved marriage equality just a few months later.

This, even though poll after poll showed the "one man, one woman" constitutional amendment was going to be a "slam dunk" win for Republicans and drive voter turnout so they could increase their majorities in the Minnesota legislature and win the U.S. Senate race.

The amendment did drive voter turnout… but in the wrong direction.  Republicans lost control of both houses of the Minnesota legislature, its U.S. Senate candidate lost in a landslide and a Republican-authored constitutional amendment to require photo ID to vote also lost.

What changed the game in Minnesota?  Yes, the national mood on marriage equality was changing — President Obama said in 2012 his view on same-sex marriage had "evolved."  Yes, it was a presidential election year that generally favored Democrats. But something else had to be happening to make such a dramatic turn — something that made Minnesota the tipping point in this epic civil rights battle.  Something that prevented people from getting scared and instead led them to make a logical decision.

That "something" is documented in a movie about the marriage equality battle in Minnesota that shows how progressives can win elections that used to be "unwinnable".  I will talk about the movie and show a few key clips from it at Netroots Nation this Friday at 11am as part of "Reel Action to Real Action: A Showcase of Activism and Film" in room 142C.

When campaign volunteer Steven Davis was told how the Minnesota campaign was going to be run, he was not happy with the approach. "I think if you approach people and rationally talk about rights that the average person will react rationally," said Davis. "I was not crazy about that plan.  But I was very wrong."

Even if you've been doing it wrong for years, you can win when you get it right.  It's one of the inspiring things about this movie that has a real Hollywood type story to tell — the good guys win against impossible odds, and love conquers all.

Discuss

Guns aren't banned at Target. But they're no longer welcome thanks to nationwide pressure from mothers like Rebecca Lowen of Minnesota.

Lowen and other members of "Moms Demand Action" petitioned Target to change its policy after "open carry" gun activists began posting pictures of themselves carrying weapons in Target stores.

After a month of pressure which included a rally outside Target's annual meeting and a 400,000 signature petition drive, Target interim CEO, John Mulligan, issued the following statement: "Starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target -- even in communities where it is permitted by law... This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create."

The manager at this Target store in Minnetonka, Minnesota confirmed that Target would ask customers to not bring open carry weapons into the store.

Rebecca Lowen, Minnesota leader of Moms Demand Action, thanked Target and said she can now bring her children shopping.  

She promised aggressive action in the upcoming election and legislative session.

"There is an election coming up in November and we are an organized force and we feel very passionate about this issue that its unreasonable for a country as great as the United States to tolerate 86 murders every day by gun violence."

President Barack Obama recently said Congress will continue to block "common sense" gun regulations such as background checks as long as the National Rifle Association and other well financed gun groups are able to wield influence with lawmakers. But he said that could change if people let lawmakers know they've had enough of gun violence and are organizing to take action.

Discuss

Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 12:38 PM PDT

Obama VIDEO: Choose Hope Over Cynicism

by mmcintee

"Cynicism passes off for wisdom. But cynicism doesn’t liberate a continent. Cynicism doesn’t build a transcontinental railroad. Cynicism doesn’t send a man to the moon. Cynicism doesn’t invent the Internet. Cynicism doesn’t give women the right to vote. Cynicism doesn’t make sure that people are treated equally regardless of race.

"Cynicism is a choice, and hope is a better choice.

"And I am not going to get cynical; I’m staying hopeful, and I hope you do too."
— Barack Obama at Lake Harriet Bandshell, Minneapolis, MN June 27, 2014

Discuss


Minnesota Supreme Court Justice candidate Michelle MacDonald has more than a DWI charge hanging over her head — she also has a bible. With it, she apparently supports a practice that dates back hundreds of years to England when the bible was considered the law itself.

Last month before news of her drunk driving charge hit the front page of the newspapers and just before Republican delegates to the Minnesota state convention endorsed her, MacDonald held a bible over her head and said it was impossible to govern "without God and the bible".

Her short campaign speech, which was interrupted eight times by applause from the Republican delegates who unanimously endorsed her, was heavy on religious references and Tea Party touchstones such as property rights and "liberty".  

Apparently none of the Republicans at the convention were aware that MacDonald had been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and resisting arrest last year.  State Republican Party chair Keith Downey told the Star Tribune "none of us, including the convention delegates were aware of this information about the candidate.  He said "delegates did not have the full disclosure they should have."

MacDonald's case is scheduled for September 15th, seven weeks and a day before the November election.  

Her opponent is current Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug.  Prior to being appointed to the Supreme Court, Lillehaug was heavily involved in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor party and served as Al Franken's lawyer in his 2008-2009 U.S. Senate recount battle with Republican Norm Coleman.  Unlike the Minnesota Republican party, the DFL party does not endorse candidates for the state Supreme Court.

When raising the bible at the podium, MacDonald said judges used to carry it above their head when entering a courtroom and that is why the "all rise" announcement is made.  That was the custom hundreds of years ago in England's royal courts when the Bible was thought to be the very law itself. So you stood to honor the bible and show respect for the king or queen.

While holding the bible MacDonald said George Washington said it was impossible to govern without God or the bible.   The group that manages Washington's estate says that quote is often misattributed to the nation's first president.  The Mount Vernon Ladies Association's research says the quote has never been proven to come from Washington.

Transcript of the video after the jump.

Continue Reading


If you listen to the Republican rhetoric on the House and Senate floors you'd think President Obama would be afraid to show his face in public because everyone hates "Obamacare."

That wasn't evident on Friday when the President along with Vice President Joe Biden walked from the White House to a sandwich shop that was giving federal workers a 10% discount to help them through the GOP induced government shutdown.  As you can see in the video the President was greeted with smiles and told by the public to "stick to your guns".

And yes, Obama picked up the tab for both his and Biden's sandwich before they walked back to the White House with a gaggle of press trailing them all the way.

Discuss
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