Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Grenade in the Tent

Here's a classic cinematic moment: An armed grenade rolls into the tent and a ragtag bunch of antagonists momentarily freezes as they simultaneously realize it's too late to toss it back.

Who will cover it and sacrifice himself? The young lieutenant with the family back home? The alcoholic corporal? The clown and general f*ck-up? The quiet black private? The hardened sergeant who's due to ship out in a week? You can play the variations yourself.

Tuesday at the state capitol, a grenade rolled into House Tax Committee tent, and if legislators don't come to their senses about "gay marriage," everything is going to get blown to hell.

The Heritage Amendment, or so-called 3/16ths bill, started as a movement to dedicate a portion of the state sales tax to environmental and wildlife preservation. It has since has added arts and culture to the mix — and, importantly, asks the monies be drawn from new revenue, aka, a tax increase.

Enter the grenade in the form of the "Marriage Amendment." Checks & Balances (free subscription required) has the story, and the explanation of what occurred gets a bit wonky:

It appears Rep. Ron Erhardt (R-41A, Edina), the author of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax amendment, attempted to insert a poison pill into the bill when he moved to include the Gay Marriage Amendment in the bill. Even though he did not vote for the Gay marriage Amendment he has created a major situation for the Republicans. If the 3/16th bill, with the Gay Marriage Amendment tacked onto it, makes its way to the floor, Republicans will be forced to vote for a tax increase in order to get another vote on Gay Marriage. If anyone tried to remove Gay Marriage from the 3/16th bill it will again force a vote on Gay Marriage. And if the bill dies of its own weight then this will mean Republicans decided that Gay Marriage was more important then concerns of the Hook and Bullet community.

It is true the social conservatives vote in large numbers, but so do the hunters and fishermen and women and the later is larger constituency group. Usually Republicans try to satisfy both rather than alienate one over the other.

It looks to me like anyone who wants to gum up legislation they don't like can roll that old grenade on the table and leave only two choices: Run or be blown to bits.


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