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Same sex marriage (SSM) in Minnesota

Part 15: 2013-MAY: Reactions to passage of
SSM bill by Senate. Governor signed bill into law.

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This topic is a continuation of the previous essay

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"SSM" is an acronym for Same Sex Marriage.
"LGBT" is an acronym for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals.
"DFL" is an acronym referring to the Democratic party in Minnesota.

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Immediate reactions to the Senate passage of the SSM bill:

By reading the following, a casual observer might conclude that Minnesotans United and Minnesota for Marriage are discussing two different bills. But they are in fact referring to the same bill. However, the two groups predict the impact of the same bill in very different ways:

  • Minnesotans United -- the main group promoting marriage equality -- talks about how same-sex couples will now have the ability to marry the person that they love and to whom they have made a lifetime commitment:
    • Spokesperson Jake Loesch said:

      "Same-sex couples pay taxes, work, and run businesses in Minnesota. They raise families, serve in the military, and are active community members — and they deserve to be treated the same as anyone else. I think there’s certainly been a shift in public opinion regarding the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Minnesota, and that’s due largely to the thousands of LGBT Minnesotans and families who’ve stepped up over the last several years to share their own personal stories about why marriage matters." 1

    • Minnesotans United issued the following statement shortly after the vote:

      "Today, we celebrate with thousands of families across our state as Minnesota has written a new page in the history books. Nearly two years ago to the day, the Minnesota Legislature put a hurtful amendment on the 2012 ballot that would’ve permanently excluded same-sex couples and their families from marriage. It was a conversation that no one had asked for – but an important one to have. Over the last two years, countless Minnesotans have shared their stories and talked about why marriage matters to all families – which brought about the first-ever defeat of such an amendment and carried Minnesota through to this extraordinary moment in time.

      The Minnesota Senate has just taken a historic step towards affirming what we already know to be true: Marriage is about the love, commitment, and responsibility that two people share, and it is time to stop denying that to some Minnesotans just because of who they are. Tomorrow will be a joyful day for thousands of families as Governor Dayton finally is able to sign the freedom to marry for all Minnesotans into law." 2

      The statement contains an error. If the amendment had been passed by the referendum of 2012-NOV, it would not have "permanently excluded same-sex couples and their families from marriage." Any such amendment could have been repealed in the future and marriage equality subsequently realized.

  • Minnesota for Marriage (MfM) -- the main group opposing marriage equality -- suggests that the bill will convert Minnesota into a police state with thought police. The latter will prosecute over a million people for holding the wrong beliefs. MfM posted a frightening note on their web site criticizing the bill and prediction future problems. They wrote, in part:

    "Bill Tramples Religious Liberty Rights of Thousands of Minnesotans and Redefines Marriage and Parenthood as Genderless for All.

    "... Today is an historic and sad day for the state of Minnesota. ..."

    "This bill not only upends our most foundational institution of marriage, redefining it as genderless and declaring mothers and fathers as 'neutral' in Minnesota—it also fails to protect the most basic religious liberty rights of those who believe based on their faith that marriage can only be the union of one man and one woman. ..."

    "Over one million Minnesotans will be forced to either affirm what they believe to be false or subject themselves to prosecution and insult as 'bigots' and 'criminals' under our law with the passage of this bill. ..."

    "Today, we all witnessed our state legislature rejecting the beliefs of the majority of Minnesotans -- choosing instead to side with the powerful same-sex 'marriage' lobby -- and denying the religious liberty rights of over one million Minnesotans.

    Minnesota will be discovering the unintended consequences and sentencing more and more people of faith to prosecution under our laws for years to come as a result of this decision made by a few today." 3

MfM may well raise a great deal of needless fear among the public as a result of their report. It is important to realize that the 11 states that legalized SSM before Minnesota have not observed any mass persecution of their citizens as MfM predicts. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religious beliefs. People are free to believe with impunity that same-sex couples, or interracial couples, or deaf couples, or African American couples, or interfaith couples or any other type of couple should not be allowed to marry and no agency will persecute them.

  • Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage -- the main national group opposing marriage for same-sex couples -- said:

    The National Organization for Marriage today condemned the Minnesota Legislature for redefining marriage and predicted that the vote will lead to the DFL losing their majority in the 2014 election.

    "Just six months ago advocates of redefining marriage said that there was no need for the marriage amendment because Minnesota already had a traditional marriage law on the books. Now, they’ve changed that law and imposed genderless marriage. Make no mistake, this vote will bring the demise of the DFL majority and end the careers of wayward Republicans in the Legislature once voters have their say." 4

  • Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), issued a statement applauding the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state. The UUA is perhaps the most liberal organized religion in the U.S. He said, in part:

    "... I applaud the great efforts of all who helped change minds in such a short amount of time in order to secure this victory."

    "... These decisive victories demonstrate that more and more Americans realize that marriage equality strengthens families, protects children, and ensures the basic rights of citizenship for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples. It is not just a phenomenon on the West and East Coasts. We are witnessing a cultural shift unparalleled in our nation's history. It is the time for equality for all loving and committed couples."

    "Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love in this struggle for equality until marriage equality is the law nationwide." 5

Webmaster's note: Minnesotans United and Minnesota for Marriage (MfM) appear to have predicted radically different futures for marriage in Minnesota. We plan to revisit the marriage situation in Minnesota at regular intervals -- perhaps annually -- and find out which of the two groups prove to be the better prognosticators.

Across the U.S. there have been perhaps a half dozen cases where wedding photographers, wedding planners, wedding cake bakers, groups that rent halls for weddings and receptions, etc. have violated their state's anti-discrimination laws because they have provided a service or product to the general public but have refused to deal with a same-sex couple. Typically, such laws forbid discrimination by companies on the basis of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

No parent will give up their gender when they marry. Probably in excess of 95% of future marriages will be between a woman and a man. Probably fewer than 5% will be between two men or two women. Every parent will have a gender. People will remain quite free to personally believe that "true" marriage is a union of one woman and one man. Others can believe that it also includes unions of two persons. The choice is theirs.

Over time, the culture may regard people opposed to marriage equality as bigots. That remains to be seen. Of the four times that marriage has been redefined in the U.S. the two most important occurred:

  • In the 19th century after the civil war when African Americans were allowed to marry, and

  • In 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state laws forbidding interracial marriages were unconstitutional.

Many Minnesotans would regard as racial bigots anyone today who feel that African Americans should not be allowed to marry or that mixed race couples should not be allowed to marry. Whether, over time, many Minnesotans will begin to feel that persons who who believe that only opposite-sex couples should be able to marry are homophobes -- people who want to restrict the human rights of homosexuals and bisexuals -- remains to be seen.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Sara Parnass, "Minnesota Senate Votes to Allow Same-Sex Marriage," ABC News, 2013-MAY-13, at: http://abcnews.go.com/
  2. "Minnesota Senate Passes Bipartisan Freedom to Marry Bill; Governor to Sign Into Law Tomorrow," Minnesotans United, 2013-MAY-13, at: http://mnunited.org/
  3. Anon, "MN Senate passes gay 'marriage' bill," Minnesota for Marriage, 2013-MAY-13, at: http://www.minnesotaformarriage.com/
  4. "National Organization for Marriage Condemns Minnesota Legislature for Redefining Marriage," National Organization for Marriage, 2013-MAY-13, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
  5. "UUA President issues statement on Marriage Equality in Minnesota," Unitarian Universalitst Association, 2013-MAY-15. at: http://www.uua.org/

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Copyright © 2013, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2013-MAY-13
Latest update: 2013-MAY-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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