Tuesday morning, activists pushing to stop a proposed constitutional amendment that would write a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution received what could prove to be a vital shot in the arm.
Minnesotans United for All Families announced that the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics would be joining their coalition of groups opposing the marriage amendment. Current state law already bans same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
"As an advocate for children and their families, MN-AAP believes this amendment would be harmful to children and adolescents in Minnesota," read a statement from the group, saying it would also harm the stability of same-sex families, thus hurting children.
The move is potentially significant as pro-amendment group Minnesota for Marriage and its allies have long maintained that children fare poorly when raised by same-sex couples.
In an interview with Patch, the head of the doctors' group said the decision to oppose the marriage amendment was made after a process he called "rich, deliberate, done over a long period of time, and with input from variety of experts."
25 years of research, Dr. Robert Jacobson said, showed children of same-sex couples in committed relationships were just as physically, emotionally, and intellectually healthy as their counterparts in committed, heterosexual relationships.
Minnesota for Marriage did not return repeated requests for comment on this story in time for publication, but the group's spokesperson Autumn Leva argued to Minnesota Public Radio that the research Jacobson cited was "flawed."
"Most Minnesotans understand in their heart of hearts that marriage really is between one man and one woman and that kids do need a mom and a dad," Leva told MPR. "And I think for far too long, politics has really played in to the research that's been done on parenting."
In an interview with Patch, Jacobson called the battery of studies behind his group's decision "robust."
"There have been many specific studies over the years, and they have reaffirmed earlier studies showing this. Really, in the medical literature, there is not a controversy about this," he said.
Johnson added that the doctors' group also decided to take a stand for their patients.
"We take to heart the work we've done with same-sex families, and recognize that this amendment would demean their commitments and relationships. It would hurt them," their children, and LGBT children, he said.
Amendment opponents greeted the announcement with excitement.
"We're very proud of the endorsement," said Kate Brickman, spokesperson for Minnesotans United. "The research shows kids do better in all stable, two-parent households and says nothing about the sexual orientation of the parents."
"It's great news. Extremely significant," Southwest Minneapolis' state Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) told Patch. "They do a very effective job of debunking opponents' central claim."
Dibble said he believed the doctors' message would resonate with swing voters and fight against a similar barrage of late-game attack ads that supporters of similar amendments have unleashed in other states.
"They appeal to fear, a lack of familiarity (with LGBT families), and disinformation," he said. "So when we're able to put strong spokespeople up, like doctors, saying that what (amendment supporters) are saying is not true, we're able to inoculate voters against that."
Dibble also praised the role many local faith leaders have taken on in vocally opposing the amendment, for similar reasons.
"The campaign really invites people to think hard and long about what marriage really means," he said. "It means the ability to protect my family, and to invite the community to support my relationship. It's central to what everyone cares about in our state."