157. canonize

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I started this as an email to my friend Christy, but figured I’d share it as an open letter instead.

Basically, here’s my pitch for voting NO on the constitutional marriage amendment in Minnesota — even for Christians.

Contrary to how it’s framed, this amendment isn’t about voting to legalize same-sex marriage. If it doesn’t pass on Tuesday, it still won’t be legal on November 7. There will still be a law in place. It’s about limiting the rights of citizens in order to enshrine a religious doctrine: i.e., God’s design for marriage is 1 man + 1 woman. It’s forcing the Minnesota constitution to take sides in a religious debate. This is a violation of the First Amendment, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

If there were secular reasons for banning same-sex couples from marriage, it would be one thing. But there aren’t any.

I’ve been through the “evidence” from Minnesota for Marriage, and it’s highly suspect.

  • Churches won’t be forced to marry same-sex couples. (Actually, in every state where same-sex marriage is legal there is specific language in the laws prohibiting religious institutions and clergy from being forced to perform same-sex ceremonies.)
  • Christians won’t be fired from jobs for speaking out against same-sex marriage or gay people.
  • Children won’t be taught about same-sex marriage in school any more than they’re already being taught about heterosexual marriage.

It’s all scare tactics.

The CDC released a study in 2010 on the results of a 6-year study that found that the only factor researchers could identify for raising healthy children is a two-parent home. The gender of the parents was not a factor for success. Children of same-sex parents were just as happy and healthy as those raised by opposite-sex parents.

If this were about protecting marriage, we’d be banning divorce. If it were about protecting family, we’d be incentivizing marriage by limiting it to couples who are able to or choose to produce children. But infertile couples are free to marry, just as couples who don’t get pregnant are also free to. And they’re free to marry and divorce as many times as they like. Yet same-sex couples can’t even get married once.

So for me this is about returning sanctity to marriage. When I want to make that kind of commitment, it’s not because I can. It’s because I will want to share my life with someone in a very meaningful way. After all, what is it that has kept same-sex couples together for decades when there was no incentive to do so? Most had to keep their relationships a secret, or had to live in insular communities where they could be safe. If anti-gay conservatives are right and relationships are just about sex for gays, why shackle yourself to one person when you could be out enjoying the smörgåsbord?

When a heterosexual person gets married, they are unwittingly bestowed with over 1,138 federal rights and benefits from the government. (There are 515 laws in MN that discriminate against same-sex couples.) It’s like the government sneaks a huge binder in amongst all the wedding present.

  • You can’t be compelled to testify against your spouse in court. I would be compelled to testify against Jay since the law would consider us “roommates.”
  • You’re entitled to the disposal of your spouse’s body and property in the event of death. If Jay and I bought a house together and his parents didn’t approve of our relationship, they are legally entitled to swoop in and take everything if he were to die, and I would have no legal rights over how to bury him. There are awful, heartbreaking stories about this. Heterosexual couples don’t have to have lawyers to ensure this doesn’t happen.

There’s more. Believe me. (Check out www.project515.org.) So how is all of this not discrimination against committed, same-sex couples? Why is the relationship between a man and a woman so different that gay people need to be excluded from marriage?

Marriage will NOT be redefined when same-sex couples are permitted to marry. (Yes, I said when.) Predictions made when Loving v. Virginia hit the Supreme Court in 1967 are being made today — and society is still standing. Bottom line: we’re not asking the government to redefine anything. We merely want to be included, the same as everyone else. The Supreme Court even called marriage a civil right:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival.

Last night during the Minnesota Public Radio marriage amendment debate, Kerri Miller asked Brian Brown what the consequences would be if same-sex marriage were legalized. He kept changing the subject and speaking in generalities, but he couldn’t name specifics. Instead, he kept kept bringing up the Bible — but this isn’t about religion. It’s about law.

Constitutions should expand the rights of citizens, not limit them. This amendment not only expands the role of government in permanently banning same-sex couples from marrying, it also enshrines a religious belief and the prejudices of those who hold it, enabling them to discriminate with impunity.

This is about the Golden Rule: do to others as you would be done by. Would you want someone voting on who you can’t marry? I don’t think so.


Resources:

American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota:

Marriage Matters

Minnesotans United for All Families

Project 515

RationalWiki

Southern Poverty Law Center

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