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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM), civil unions, etc In Minnesota

Part 3: More groups supporting SSM.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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State groups supporting same-sex marriage in Minnesota (Cont'd):

  • Project 515: is named after the 515 laws in the state that discriminate against same-sex couples and their families. Their stated mission is:

    " ensure that same sex couples and their families have equal rights and considerations under Minnesota law.

    Project 515 believes:

    • All families should be equally valued and respected under the law.
    • All families should be treated fairly in their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities.
    • For true equality and fairness under Minnesota law to become a reality, all committed couples must share similar obligations and responsibilities. ..."
    "Project 515 is dedicated to achieving full equality for committed same-sex couples in Minnesota. Research shows that 79 percent of Minnesotans believe in equality for same-sex couples, but differ on the ultimate means for providing equality. Our goal is to educate Minnesotans first about the discrimination same-sex couples face and then lead Minnesotans in a discussion about the best way to achieve full equality."

    "Project 515 is committed to changing the debate around long-term same-sex relationships. The first step is clarifying the discrimination families currently face in Minnesota and understanding how that discrimination affects all of us.
    We also recognize that in leaving out many committed couples, some state laws offer unmarried, committed couples freedom from the obligations and responsibilities placed upon married couples. Project 515 believes that fairness means all committed couples must share similar obligations and responsibilities. This will only strengthen Minnesota families and communities."

  • A number of faith groups oppose the 2012 amendment, including:
    • The Northeastern Minnesota Synod and the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) 1
    • The Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ. 2
    • The Episcopal Church of Minnesota. 3 
    • The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. 3
    • Catholics for Marriage Equality MN. 4 
    • Thirty-five rabbis from the Minnesota Rabbinical Association. 5

  • The Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission passed a resolution in late 2011-NOV that opposes the marriage amendment. They noted that the definition of family has changed throughout history and in recent years, implying that families led by married same-sex couples is simply the latest change. They noted that if the amendment passed it would:

    "have a direct, negative impact on Minneapolis' GLBT communities in particular by denying equal protection of the laws, abridging the privileges or immunities of Minneapolis residents, and relegating families consisting of same-sex couples to a permanent second-class citizenship status ... [and] promote an environment in which discrimination against GLBT citizens is not only encouraged but mandated, resulting in a community that is neither welcome nor safe ... [and that] such discriminatory laws needlessly alienate prospective GLBT employees and GLBT-friendly employers, inhibiting Minnesota’s economic growth."

    They also expressed concern about the effect that the amendment would have on violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and their suicide rate. 6,7

  • As of mid 2012-AUG, twelve city councils in Minnesota have passed resolutions in favor of SSM and opposing the constitutional amendment

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Statement opposing the amendment, sent by President Obama's presidential campaign; reactions:

On 2012-APR-09, Kristin Sosanie, the communications director for President Obama's campaign Obama for America issued a news release concerning the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage. It stated:

"... while the President does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the record is clear that the President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples. That's what the Minnesota ballot initiative would do -- it would single out and discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples." 8

This comment was very similar to one issued in 2012-MAR concerning the North Carolina marriage amendment of 2012-MAY.

State Rep. Steve Gottwalt, (R) who supports the marriage amendment to ban same-sex marriage, said he was disappointed in the Obama campaign statement. He rejects the belief that the amendment is anti-gay marriage. He regards it as simply enshrining into the constitution the concept that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman. He said:

"Frankly, I think it's unfortunate that the president of the United States is getting involved in a state issue, but that's certainly his right. ... The idea that this is an attack on anyone is just incorrect. It's called the marriage amendment. What this really is about is marriage, and Minnesotans ought to have the right to say what that means to them." 8

In what might have been a response to President Obama's support, Chuck Darrell, communications director for Minnesota for Marriage -- a major group supporting the marriage amendment -- said:

"The amendment makes no change in rights and benefits for gays and lesbians, nor does it limit the legislature’s ability to provide future benefits if those become needed. Gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose, but they do not have the right to redefine marriage for all society." 9

Rep. Gottwalt seem to believe that in a democracy, the will of the majority should always rule. This is a very common belief. However, as a legislator, he should be aware that the will of the majority can only be sustained if the proposal is constitutional. So, for example, if the majority of Minnesotans want inter-racial marriages banned, he would apparently believe that the public should be able to encode racism into the state constitution and/or the state marriage law. However, in the 1960's the U.S. Supreme Court determined that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional and thus null and void. So the will of the majority cannot necessarily be enshrined in law. If the will of the majority violates the federal constitution by treating groups of people unequally or by limiting access to justice for some groups, then it might properly be called the tyranny of the majority -- a major concern of the founders of the U.S.

On APR-09, seven Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) legislators released their own statement that supports Obama's position. It said in part:

"We thank President Obama for lending his voice to this discussion and hope it sparks a conversation that Minnesotans will be having in their communities in the months leading up to Election Day about what marriage, family and freedom really mean to each of us." 8

(The DFL is the name of the political party in Minnesota to which state Democrats belong)

Rep. Susan Allen (D), who is openly lesbian, said:

"We thank President Obama for lending his voice to this discussion, and hope it sparks a conversation that Minnesotans will be having in their communities in the months leading up to Election Day about what marriage, family, and freedom really mean to each of us." 9

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2012-JUL-11: Group of retired Roman Catholic priests unite to support marriage equality:

Bob Minton, a retired Catholic priest, noted that many faith groups had joined with Minnesotans United for all Families to promote marriage equality: Episcopalians, Lutherans, Jews, Methodists, Unitarians, etc., but not the Roman Catholic Church. He realized that the Catholic Church would never support equality for all families, and that no currently active priests would risk Church retaliation if they voiced support for same-sex marriage. So he got in touch with other retired or resigned priests to fill the void. As of early July, he obtained 95 signatories from priests who had collectively devoted over a millennium of service to the church. By the end of August, this had grown to 102.

Minton jointed with 4 other priests and established an ad hoc committee who issued a statement saying in part:

"Free to express our opinions openly, we call on all people of good will to exercise their fundamental right to follow their consciences and to resist discrimination against any of God’s children."

Minton discussed the differences between doctrine, which has continued unchanged down through the centuries, and teachings, which change:

"One of the things that concerns us is the Archbishop likes to gloss over the difference between doctrine and teachings. The distinction is not clear to the laity and the Archbishop tries to confuse this. ... This is not doctrine. ... One of the most famous examples [of doctrinal change] is from Galileo’s time, that the sun revolves around the Earth."

In response to the group's press conference in May, the Minnesota Catholic Conference issued a statement which said in part:

"As with any citizen, they have the right to share their views in the important public debate about the definition of marriage. While we are grateful to many of these men for their previous years of service, they have now chosen to separate themselves from the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding marriage.

The Minnesota Bishops, like their counterparts across the country, along with every Catholic priest and deacon, have the responsibility to communicate Catholic teaching on this most fundamental matter. Only marriage between one man and one woman is consistent with the Gospel and the demands of justice." 10

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TV ads by those opposed to same-sex marriage:

We are on the lookout for these ads but have not seen any yet. If we find any, and if copyright laws allow, we will show them here.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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Site navigation:

References used:

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

  1. "Second Group of Lutherans Pass Resolution to Oppose Amendment," Minnesotans United for All Families, 2012-APR-29, at:
  2. Andy Birkey, "Republicans, Planned Parenthood sign on to oppose anti-gay marriage amendment," The Minnesota Independent, 2011-OCT-06, at:
  3. Admin, "Minnesota Episcopals vote to oppose amendment to ban same-sex marriage," 2011-NOV-02, at:
  4. Catholics for Marriage Equality MN has its home page at:
  5. Tom Nelson, "Minn. Jewish leaders oppose marriage amendment," Minnesota Public Radio, 2012-FEB-07, at:
  6. Staff, "Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission votes to oppose anti-gay marriage amendment," The column, 2011-NOV-28, at:
  7. The text of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission's declaration is available at:
  8. Pam Louwagie, "Obama weighs in against Minnesota's marriage ballot," Star Tribune, 2012-APR-09, at:
  9. Dave Bohon, "Obama Intrudes Into Minnesota Marriage Battle," The New American,  2012-APR-12, at:
  10. Beth Hawkins, "Former priests against marriage amendment near 100 signatory mark," Minn Post, 2012-JUL-11, at:

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Copyright © 2012, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2012-APR-30
Latest update: 2012-SEP-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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