Same-sex marriage (SSM), civil unions, etc
Part 2: State groups opposing and supporting SSM
State groups opposing same-sex marriage in Minnesota by supporting the amendment:
- Minnesota Majority: They "... promote traditional values in state and federal public policy through grassroots activism on the part of its members." Preventing same-sex marriage is just one of many issues that they are promoting. They ask that people "Join us in renewing the call for Minnesota state legislators to let the people of Minnesota vote on the marriage amendment by contacting your elected officials today." They appear to be unaware that the marriage amendment to implement a vote by the public has already been authorized by the Legislature.
- Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC): This is composed of the seven Roman Catholic bishops of Minnesota. The hierarchy strongly supports the proposed constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. However, many of the Catholic laity ignore the teachings of the bishops in many topics related to human sexuality. In the U.S., the laity often supports marriage equality slightly more than the national average.
The bishops argue that:
- "Given the inherent connection between families, the well being of children, and the good of society, it is natural that the state supports and endorses traditional marriage in its laws." The term "traditional marriage" refers to a union that involves one woman married to one man. They appear to imply that no connection or a negative connection exists between same-sex spouses, their children, and society. However, they do not indicate why they believe this way. They also do not indicate why the state should support traditional marriages, but prohibit opposite-sex marriages.
- Traditional marriage reflects the "... bond of love between [Jesus] Christ and the Church." However, the "bond of love" by Jesus includes love between Jesus and both women and men. The former would be reflected by a traditional marriage. It would seem that the latter would be reflected by a same-sex marriage. However, the Bishops apparently think otherwise for reasons that they do not state.
- Jesus was born into a traditional marriage headed by a woman and man. The bishops explain that marriages are important because it is within a family that children "learn to love others and live the virtues necessary to be good and productive members of our communities." The bishops seem to imply, but do not state, that children in a family led by same-sex parents cannot love others or live virtuously.
- The relationship between Jesus' parents was "fundamentally rooted in difference" between the two parents. They state that a family "founded on the giving of one man and one woman is the bedrock of civil society." This is certainly true in the case of Minnesota because same-sex marriages are prohibited. They imply that families founded on the mutual giving of two men or of two women cannot contribute significantly to society. Again, they give no reason.
- They quote Pope John Paul II as saying that an authentic and strong marriage is where children "develop their potentialities, become aware of their dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny. They seem to imply that same-sex couples cannot form a strong marriage, and that their children will have a stunted emotional growth and limited potential as adults.
In the past, groups opposing same-sex marriage in the courts often supplied the findings of surveys which showed that a family led by one woman and one man was superior to other family structures. However, their data was derived from studies comparing families led by a wife and husband with families led by a single parent. Needless to say, the latter were often economically disadvantaged and, on average, had poorer outcome for their children. The Catholic Conference may still be relying on this type of study. However, in recent years, new studies have been made that compare "traditional families" with families led by same-sex parents. They have found that the latter do at least as well as do families led by a wife and husband.
Early in 2012, Archbishop Nested apparently gave his active priests and deacons two choices: to actively support the marriage amendment to prohibit marriage equality, or to keep silent on the topic. He allegedly wrote that he expects: "all the priests and deacons in this Archdiocese [to] support this venture and cooperate with us in the important efforts that lie ahead." He noted noting that when ordained, each priest and deacon had "made a promise to promote and defend all that the Church teaches. I call upon that promise in this effort to defend marriage. There ought not be open dissension on this issue. If any have personal reservations, I do not wish that they be shared publicly. If anyone believes in conscience that he cannot cooperate, I want him to contact me directly and I will plan to respond personally." 1
- Minnesota Family Council (MFC): describes themselves as:
"... an issue advocacy organization that provides a strong and respected voice for biblical principles in the legislature and engages the Christian community across Minnesota to advocate on behalf of those values and hold elected officials accountable for their actions. With our grassroots network, MFC works to secure the sanctity of human life, protect [traditional] marriage, defend parental rights, promote school choice, defend religious freedom and eradicate pornography and gambling in our society." 2
- Minnesota for Marriage: "... is a broad coalition of leaders, both inter-faith and people outside the religious community, who support the Minnesota Marriage Amendment and asked the Legislature to place it on the ballot. Their leaders have assembled a campaign to ensure this amendment passes."
They state that the Amendment "... is necessary to prevent activist judges and politicians from redefining marriage in the future without voter approval." They also state:
"An amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman is necessary to prevent future legislative and judicial efforts to redefine this sacred institution. We strongly believe that Minnesota voters have the right to decide what marriage means in our state, just as voters in 31 other states have done. By placing the traditional definition of marriage in the Constitution, we can ensure that it will always be Minnesota voters, and not politicians or unaccountable judges, who will have the final say on marriage in Minnesota." 3
By stressing that marriage is a "sacred institution" they appear to have concluded that civil marriages either do not exist, or should be ignored.
They appear to be mistaken about the role of the functions of courts. The proposed constitutional amendment will not absolutely prevent SSMs from being legalized in the future for two reasons:
- Just as the state constitution can be amended by a popular vote, the amendment can be also repealed through the same process.
- The U.S. Supreme Court has the responsibility of determining the scope of various amendments to the U.S. Constitution that deal with equal protection and equal access topics. That court could decide that any state constitutions that ban same-sex marriage are null and void, just as they did in 1967 concerning constitutions of 16 states that once banned inter-racial marriage.
State groups supporting same-sex marriage in Minnesota by opposing the marriage amendment:
Marriage Equality Minnesota: Their facebook page states that they are:
"... an all-volunteer association dedicated to establishing legal marriage for same-sex couples in the state of Minnesota. Our bill is the Marriage and Family Protection Act, now introduced for the 2011-2012 biennium."
Marry Me Minnesota: "... is an
organization founded in 2008 by
same-sex couples preparing to sue
the State of Minnesota for the
right to marry." They note that:
"There are thousands of couples in Minnesota who lack the
ability to marry. It impacts virtually every aspect of our
lives, our finances, our ability to visit each other in times
of sickness and to make decisions for our loved ones in
times of death. We don't want to wait five years, ten
years, twenty years to see equality for same-gender
couples in Minnesota. Many of us cannot afford to wait
that long. That is why Marry Me Minnesota filed suit in
Hennaing County District Court on May 11, 2010 to
overturn the statutory ban on same-sex marriage in
Minnesota." More details
Minnesotans for Equality was founded in 2012. Their web site is under construction as of 2012-MAY-01. They have a facebook page.
Minnesotans United for All Families: state that their group:
"... is a broad coalition of [over 300] organizations and community and business leaders. Faith, labor, progressive, and nonpartisan organizations, communities of color, current and former elected officials, Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Independents, and Libertarians have all joined to defeat the constitutional amendment which would limit the freedoms of Minnesotans and ban marriage for same-sex couples in Minnesota.
We are a coalition founded on a strong belief in the power of marriage. We believe marriage and family are about love and commitment, working together, bettering the community, raising children, and growing old together. We believe in a Minnesota that values and supports strong families and creates a welcoming environment for all Minnesota families to thrive.
And we believe that marriage matters."
They ask that Minnesotans "pledge to vote NO! on a permanent government ban on marriage for same-sex couples." They have misrepresented the nature of the constitutional amendment scheduled for 2012-NOV. It is not necessarily a permanent amendment or even a long lasting amendment. Any future session of the Legislature can authorize a new plebiscite to repeal this one. If the SSM ban passes in 2012, it will almost certainly be by a small percentage. With support for SSM growing historically between 1 and 2 percentage points per year, it would not take long before a simple majority of voters would favor repeal.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Joe Kimball, "Archbishop Nested to priests: Support marriage amendment or be quiet if you disagree," Inn Post, 2012-JAN-06, at: http://www.minnpost.com/
"What’s the Difference Between Minnesota Family Council and Minnesota Family Institute?," Minnesota Family Council, at: http://www.mfc.org/
"About Minnesota for Marriage," Minnesota for Marriage, at: http://www.minnesotaformarriage.com/
Copyright © 2012, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2012-APR-30
Latest update: 2012-SEP-02
Author: B.A. Robinson