It has been said before elsewhere and by us ad nausea every election that comes around that it is the most important one of our lifetime, that it has become almost cliché.
However, unless you are so detached from our political system, it is hard to argue with folk that this indeed is a very important election. For one, if you voted in 2008, we all know how historic that election was which saw the eventual election of President Barack Obama, becoming the first black president of our country. If you are one of those that voted for him, he is asking once again for your vote and it is up to you to reaffirm your support for him or against him.
We believe this will be a very revealing election about our country as far as the presidential election goes. Will the economic woes we have endured these past four years trump all other considerations of how the president has run the country or will we as a nation (especially those who voted for him the first time) take into consideration the total picture and calculate based on what the president has had to work with on the strength of what he was handed when he took over?
Secondly, what makes this a very important election (outside of the presidential race) for those of us in Minnesota are two constitutional amendments. One is an amendment to the constitution to require government issued photo ID to vote in elections. The second is a constitutional amendment to recognize marriage as being that between a man and a woman, in effect banning same sex marriage in the state constitutionally – it is already illegal in Minnesota to marry someone of the same sex. The constitutional amendment is to make it impossible for courts to go round the public and make them legal.
The two amendments by themselves obligate you to show up and vote and make your voice heard. Our perspective on the voter ID amendment is that it is an unnecessary amendment and is a form of voter suppression. Our position we have found out over the last few months is shared by many of you who happen to be African immigrants. Our hope is that this amendment will be defeated by the voters and urge you to vote accordingly.
The marriage amendment is a difficult one for our community that is overwhelmingly religious whether Christian or Muslim. The vast majority of the community we serve is opposed to same sex marriage. We are however urging you as a voter to think strategically when you decide on how to vote on this very serious amendment.
Mshale is not a champion of same sex marriage and do not see ourselves going down that road anytime soon. However, we do not believe the constitutional marriage amendment is necessary as state law already takes care of this adequately. We believe constitutional amendments should be reserved for the most important of issues and even then to be used to expand rights, not suppress them. Unfortunately, the messengers and champions of the marriage amendment happen to be the same who are always out to restrict many other rights immigrants and people of color enjoy. We would therefore let you vote your conscience on the marriage amendment.
Keep in mind that on your ballot if you choose not to vote on the two amendments, that is the same as voting NO and it will be counted as voting against them.