Duluth city councilors push for vote on gay marriage issueThe issue of gay marriage will come before the Duluth City Council tonight when Councilors Jeff Anderson and Sharla Gardner introduce a resolution opposing an amendment to the state Constitution that would allow Minnesota to legally recognize only opposite-sex unions.
By: Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune
The issue of gay marriage will come before the Duluth City Council tonight when Councilors Jeff Anderson and Sharla Gardner introduce a resolution opposing an amendment to the state Constitution that would allow Minnesota to legally recognize only opposite-sex unions.
Councilor Todd Fedora criticized the resolution at a Thursday night agenda session, saying: “It has nothing to do with the city of Duluth.”
The matter of whether to disallow same-sex marriage will be put to a statewide public referendum Nov. 6, 2012, and Fedora contends the city has no business telling people how to vote. He sarcastically asked whether resolutions on Canadian oil pipelines or a new Viking stadium would be next.
“If it affects our city, we might,” said Council President Sharla Gardner, explaining that the marriage rights of homosexuals are an issue of concern to many Duluthians.
She defended the resolution, saying that it was in keeping with previous City Council actions.
“We’re the third-largest city in the state, and we’ve traditionally taken the lead on a lot of social issues,” Gardner said.
Anderson joked that if Fedora wanted to bring forward a Vikings stadium resolution, he’d be happy to consider co-sponsoring it.
Councilor Jim Stauber asked that the council consider delaying action on the resolution.
“My guess is that this will spark a fair amount of debate,” he said, pointing out that tonight’s meeting already is expected to be lengthy and well-attended, as the city sets its budget for 2012.
“Sometimes it makes sense to spread out issues, instead of bunching them up. Could this wait until next year?” he asked.
Gardner pointed out that tonight’s meeting will be Anderson’s last, as he leaves office to run for the 8th District congressional seat. Accordingly, she deferred the decision to him.
However, Anderson chose not to pull the resolution.
During his last council meeting, Anderson also will ask his colleagues to weigh in on another issue. He has introduced a resolution stating the council’s opposition to a recent Supreme Court decision that corporations should be bestowed constitutional rights.
Fedora again questioned why the council should be taking a position on a decision on a matter that was not germane to city government and called the resolution “nonsensical.”
“I may be a lame duck, but I still have a little quack in me,” quipped Fedora, who also will be leaving the council in 2012, after a close but unsuccessful re-election bid.
Councilor Jay Fosle joined the fray, accusing Anderson of “showboating” and calling his two proposals “wastepaper-basket resolutions.”
In response to criticism at Thursday’s agenda session, Anderson said: “I respect and understand the point of view of some councilors on these types of resolutions. I will speak Monday about why I feel these issues should be considered.”