About a year ago, Governor Mark Dayton signed marriage equality into law on the Capitol steps. It was a huge move forward for Minnesota, and a stark reminder of how far we’ve come. A lot has changed in the past 50 years.
50 years ago today, the U.S. Senate passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 after a marathon filibuster. It is hailed as one of the biggest legislative accomplishments in American history and credited with creating our modern America.
The Civil Rights Act outlawed discrimination based on race, sex, religion or national origin. It outlawed segregation in all public places and encouraged the desegregation of public schools.
It also made significant changes for women in the workplace. Before the Civil Rights Act, employers posted jobs for “male only” applicants. Women could be fired for becoming pregnant or not hired because they have small children at home.
The Civil Rights Act also allowed for progress on voting rights. It barred unequal application of voter requirements, but it didn’t go as far to get rid of literacy tests required to cast a ballot. (The Voting Rights Act suspended the use of literacy tests one year later.)
Even today, voters’ rights are being questioned. Republican legislators put a voter restriction amendment on the ballot in Minnesota in 2012. This amendment would have required government-issued photo identification from every voter in order to cast a vote.
Voter ID laws do more harm than good. They disproportionately impact minorities and the poor by creating barriers to voting.
Minnesotans voted down this harmful legislation in 2012, but some Minnesota conservatives still support Voter ID.
Thanks to progressive majorities in St. Paul, Minnesota is looking to make voting safer and easier, not restrict voting rights. It’s one huge example of the the important difference progressive majorities have on Minnesota.