WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     When it comes to Constitutional amendments I think our legislators should study Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson and the framers of the constitution took great pains to make it difficult to amend the U.S. Constitution. That is probably a good thing, as in those times people had to make slow and deliberate progress when it came to amending the constitution. Jefferson and other framers of the constitution held close that amendments to the constitution should protect the individual rights of the people.

    For the most part despite the fact that women, children and blacks still did not have the same rights of men. Blacks of course were almost exclusively sold into slavery, and Jefferson himself was a big slave holder. At the same time women were not allowed to vote, or even hold office in churches, and certainly not public office. There were no laws about children when it came to working. Young children who were orphaned were often sent to work in sweat shops or adopted by farmers or business men  who used them primarily  as cheap laborers.

    it was nearly 100 years later when slavery was finally abolished, and nearly three quarters of a century before women gained the right to vote. Soon after, labor unions formed, and children's work laws were put into place. Also many churches in our country finally allowed women to take positions in the congregations although to this day some do not.

    Martin Luther King had a vision back in the late fifties, Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus, so that the civil rights movement would eventually give rights to people of color. All of this was fought over by mostly southern white people, but eventually the black people were given the same rights as the rest of us. I recall when I was in the service in 1961 travelling home from Mississippi seeing rest room signs at bus stops that said white only or an arrow pointing to the rear of the building saying coloreds. I thought to myself at the time that this was terrible.

    Of course times have changed, today prejudice is far less and there are many blacks that have been very successful in life.

    Today times have changed also. The gay and lesbian community is growing and we find that many families have a brother, sister, aunt, or uncle who is gay.

    Today we have two constitutional amendments before us, one know as the marriage amendment, and the other an amendment to call for Voter ID.

    I was disturbed to find out When former Republican Strategist Michael Brodcorb told the truth about the marriage amendment. He said itís strategy was pushed by the republican party for more Votes not Values. The idea was to get more social conservatives to the polls. Well that in itself is not illegal, but I find it terribly divisive.

    I guess I feel that gays and lesbians are being treated much like oppressed women, children and blacks of yester year. Of course even if the amendment should pass there is still a law on the books defining marriage in Minnesota as one man and one woman.

    I can not tell you how you should vote, but I thought some of the things that have changed over the past 250 years should have some reverence to the future.

    The voter ID amendment ó simply not needed. At the present there are laws requiring proof of residence, most cases you can show your drivers license, provide proof of residence by providing utility bills, tax statements etc. You canít just walk into a place and say I want to vote, our election judges are trained each election on all of the rules about who can and can not vote.

    Minnesota has one of the best voting records in the country, with little evidence of voter fraud. About the only voter fraud was when some paroled felons voted without knowing they were ineligible to do so. voter ID would not have prevented that from happening.

    Then there is the cost of implementation of the amendment, estimates are all over the place, but most experts agree it would likely be in the millions of dollars. Then you have to wonder when one party puts forth a constitutional amendment with only one vote from the other side of the isle, it canít be good. Constitutional amendments are a very serious way of imposing laws and should have bipartisan support ó this does not.

    There are many reasons to not pass this law, but when former governor Arne Carlson says it is a bad amendment, one really should respect that. There are far many reasons for not voting yes on this amendment, but I am sure you have heard most of them at one time or another. Vote no, it might be your relative that will lose their right to vote.

Have a great week and do good!