Competing signs in marriage amendment debate
MINNEAPOLIS - With nearly 100 days to go before the November election, opponents of a marriage amendment are warning people hate crimes will likely go up in the coming months.
"We are seeing an increase already. We know that we are in the final hundred days of the campaign, and we have seen physical assaults. We have seen slurs," said Rebecca Waggoner with OutFront Minnesota.
Waggoner said the local trend follows a national one in states that have previously considered marriage amendments. Waggoner says reports to local advocacy organizations and police departments suggest hate crimes based on sexual orientation went up by as much as 47 percent in the 13 states that considered a marriage initiative in 2004.
According to statistics from the FBI, hate crimes based on sexual orientation in California and Florida did go up in 2008 - the year those states voted on the definition of marriage. Hate crimes went down slightly in Arizona in 2008, which also had the marriage issue on the ballot.
Waggoner said her organization is reaching out to people - asking them to take precautions, but they're also hoping for a more sweeping cultural change.
"We can't ask people to not be out. We can't say, 'Well for your own safety...' That's unfair to people. So instead of safety tips, why don't we think about ways to stand up, stop the derogatory language and say, 'No, no, enough is enough,'" Waggoner said.
Meantime, Chuck Darrell with Minnesota for Marriage, the group supporting the marriage amendment, said, "There is nothing in the FBI report whatsoever to link any of this to a marriage amendment."
Darrell pointed out that hate crimes actually dropped in California in 2009; one year after the amendment was passed by voters. He also stated that hate crimes based on religion went up during election years.
"We decry hate by anyone. The other side accuses us of hate merely for believing in the truth of marriage as it has existed throughout the ages. Our campaign is focused on the good of marriage. We are pro-marriage and not anti-gay," he said.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)