MN Public Radio Commentator: Sen. Franken Wrong to Ambush Tom Minnery at DOMA Hearing


Carrie Daklin, an independent commentator for Minnesota Public Radio writes:

I [would] hope that if I did have to testify before the Senate, whoever was questioning me would be kind, would recognize that this was his sandbox, not mine, and that, as a representative of our country, he would not embarrass me for his own purposes.

Sadly, when Tom Minnery testified, that was not the kind of treatment he received from Al Franken.

Sen. Franken [...] chastised Minnery's assumption of the definition of nuclear families, and stated, essentially, that if Minnery had so misinterpreted the information in the HHS report, then all of his testimony was subject to question.

A fine performance, Sen. Franken, but here's the rub: In case you missed it in those DOMA hearings, the federal government doesn't recognize same-sex marriage. So I would think it might have been reasonable for Minnery to assume that a federal report had followed federal law.

... Humiliation and respect are mutually exclusive. I am afraid that in his zest for the issue at hand, Sen. Franken, wittingly or not, fostered humiliation instead of respect.

The point here is not where you fall on DOMA or gay marriage. The point is that Franken, sadly, did exactly what we as a nation are finding so frustrating in government today: He polarized the situation. He escalated it. And that is not an appropriate role for the powerful position he occupies.

Franken's response no doubt delighted supporters of same-sex marriage. But people who are on the fence may have had a very different reaction. Anyone who wanted to hear and understand the subject with an open mind likely would have been offended by Franken's dismissal of Minnery and would have had all the excuse they needed to walk away.


  1. Ken
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Why don't you focus on the substance of what was discussed instead of trying to make Minnery out to be a victim of liberal bullying? I guess it's because you know that Franken was right. Minnery took data, intentionally misrepresented it and ignored whatever pieces of it didn't support his agenda and he was hoping that those listening to his testimony didn't have the facts so he could het away with it. We expect this sort of thing on the blogs of anti-gay organizations and in their articles, press releases and printed propaganda but Minnery was knowingly lying to a Senate committee and he absolutely deserved to be called out on it and embarrassed for it.

  2. Randy E King
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Based on his response; It was obvious that Franken was laying in wait. Franken's retort was choreographed in such a way as to lend the appearance of greater credence to his understanding then is actually warranted - he was splitting hairs.

    The man is an actor; because he is good enough, he is smart enough, and dog-gone-it some people actually like him.

    But don't as me why.

  3. Sean
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I agree with this article's argument, the whole of his testimony is not in dispute if one part is flawed. That is terrible reasoning.
    However misreading (always assume good faith) a study does make someone unreliable when it comes to interpreting science, which should encourage all of the sources to be checked, rather than completely dismissing his credibility.

  4. TC Matthews
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Chris from CO,

    I'm sorry to hear that you have a sad story. Many people have sad stories, in fact, most people have really sad stories in their lives...but what does that have to do with the issue here?

    Do you support this Senator using his office to bully someone he disagreed with simply because you agree with his politics? That seems kind of lame. I would think that someone who has been bullied, as your story intimates you yourself have, would be the first to stand against a bully, no matter what belief he professed.

  5. holly vellani
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Franken should've looked up the definition of nuclear family in the dictionary. Minnery was right.

  6. Terry
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Franken polarized the situation? The situation was already polarized because of the issue itself.

  7. SC Guy
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Franken is a mocking liberal and has no respect for traditional values. He's a disgrace to the people of Minnesota and shouldn't be in the Senate.

  8. Satchel
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Franken is just following Saul Alinsky's handbook, Rules for Radicals, which shows what a jerk he really is.

  9. Ian A Wender
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Really? This is your big issue today..."He was mean to me". Maybe NOM should do some serious soul searching on whom exactly is trying to limit the civil rights of others based on their own limited, dogmatic thinking. If not, take your ball and go home.

  10. Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    This is what happens when you elect a clown to the senate.

  11. Ken
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    "Franken should've looked up the definition of nuclear family in the dictionary. Minnery was right."

    Wrong. They weren't debating Holly's definition of a nuclear family, the issue was how the term was defined for the purposes of the NIH study Minnery had cited. Minnery was intentionally mischaracterizing the study, its definitions and its findings.

  12. Barb
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    "Nuclear family" has always meant mother, father and children. Was this term redefined when nobody was looking? What did the study mean when it used this term? Wouldn't it be useful to pursue this question?

    Instead of clarifying the study, Franken just dismisses all of Minnery's testimony. Franken used to be mildly entertaining. Now he's just pathetic. He's going to die penniless and homeless, and nobody loves him.

    Only if SS"M" advocates can successfully redefine our language can they make a case for gay "marriage."

  13. Brian
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    The real issue here is that Franken was right and Minnery was wrong. Minnery should have been prepared to be questioned and should have informed on the topic. In the absence of any legal reason to oppose gay marriage he decided to spin the results of a study and got called on it....booo hooo.

  14. Bruce
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, this kind of distortion of science is typcial of Focus on the Family and other right wing groups. Debra Blackwell, the lead researcher of the study in question, has confirmed that Senator Frankin is correct: the study did not exclude families headed by same sex couples in the "nuclear family" category.

    I'm all for civility, but I'm also for calling out organizations which routionely corrupt science in their efforts to marginalize GLBT people.

  15. Katie
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    @Barb: "Nuclear family" in the study referred to a child's two biological or adoptive parents. The study did not specify gender.

    Here is an article from Politico with the lead author of the study clarifying the definition:

    Quote: The study’s definition of nuclear family is: “one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family.”

  16. TC Matthews
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    No wonder there was confusion, the study's author should have used a broader phrase if that's what he intended. "Nuclear family" is not all inclusive. It's specific.

  17. Barb
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    @Katie: Thank you.

  18. Susan
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    @Ken, just because you don't believe in SSM doesn't mean you are anti-gay, the facts are there is no such thing as SSM can have a same sex relationship, but the word "marriage" when used to describe a holy union means a male and can also have a "marriage" of spices and herbs when cooked together....but two men or two women cannot be "married" in the true definition of the created a "new thing", now you have to come up with a name, for instance if we found a new species of animal we can't just decide to call it a "horse", because its not a horse, a horse has already been defined as belonging to the equine family, etc....FIND A NEW NAME AND DESIGN YOUR OWN "CEREMONY ", because what you are doing is not marriage and certainly not ordained by God as such.

  19. Louis E.
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    The only problem with that definition of nuclear family is that adoption laws can (but never should) treat multiple people of one sex as parents of a child.

    It is necessary to "marginalize" same-sex sexual relationships for the good of all,the people engaged in that erroneous practice calling themselves "GLBT people" offers them no exemption.

  20. John N.
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    In November 2012 it is hoped that the people of Minnesota send the message to Franken and his ilk that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

  21. Mary Ann
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Franken is a goof. But, frankly, I'm kinda relieved that nuts in political life aren't only in CA. Gets kinda depressing being on the left coast sometimes.

    Bullying is bullying. Whether it's effeminate kids, fat kids (like me) kids with glasses (like me) handicapped kids or lack of civility among adults. It's mean and wrong. And sad when coming from adults who should know better.

    SSM supporters really lack credibility when they turn a blind eye to bullying.

  22. Diane Hansen
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Quote: The study’s definition of nuclear family is: “one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents of all the children in the family.”

    The study cites MARRIED couples. In 45 states that is a man and woman. No right, no wrong here, those are the facts. And THAT is why Franken's response was flawed. If he had asked, "In the six states that allow gay marriage,would your study apply to them?", he might have had an argument.--and a civil discussion might actually have ensued. But he didn't. He made a sweeping and factually incorrect statement for 90 percent of our country.

  23. Little man
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    That's exactly why another invited guest to testify for DOMA (not against) decided not to accept the invitation. So, Mr. Minnery, did his best to answer on the spur of the moment. Say, someone checking an elaborate accounting decided there was an error. If i didn't do the accounting myself, i would be hard pressed to read it over to check for myself. With no time given to make the check, i would have to simply say i got my sum, as reported. But Sen. Franken didn't allow for a re-reading of the scientific article. Again - false procedure by those who argue from pre-conceptions for same-sex marriage. They show their real face, because they won't debate, just run you over. In the long-run, people will see the lack of logical argument in same-sex marriage advocates.

  24. Little man
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    chris from CO:
    Your experiences of humiliation are very sad, and shouldn't have happened. Most of the supporters of NOM would agree with that. But certainly, a humiliation does not justify another humiliation, for then it continues the series. Also, don't think that only effeminate boys get humiliated in school. If you are fat, if you are skinny, if you are mentally slow, if you are mentally too fast - there are many reasons why kids get humiliated, as humiliation if sort of like a sport to pass the time in Public School, since it has become more like a baby-sitting system. Anyway, most of us on this comment string would not support the humiliation you received for being effeminate.

  25. Randy E King
    Posted August 3, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Can we now talk about all the times I was bullied until I fought back?

    Everybody gets bullied!

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