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Opinion: Vote in 2012 will be on gay marriage amendment

Published 11:03am Monday, October 24, 2011

An amendment proposed for the Minnesota Constitution will be presented to voters in November 2012. It is really a simple matter, although some forces are working hard to exaggerate and distort it. Minnesota already has a law that defines marriage as that of one man and one woman. All the amendment would do is to incorporate existing law into the state constitution. If a person disagrees with the existing law, he or she can be expected to vote against the amendment. If a person agrees with existing law, he or she can be expected to vote for the amendment. It is really as simple as this.

Thirty-four years ago the Minnesota legislature enacted the marriage definition law. Last May the legislature voted to put the proposed amendment directly before the people of the state for our vote. The motivation for the constitutional amendment is to protect existing law from non-legislative abrogation. Those who proposed it, and the majority in the legislature who voted for it, reason that strange things are happening in courts and they could happen in Minnesota. Some courts have ruled that their state constitutions do not make specific provision to define marriage as of one man and one woman. Therefore, any law that so defines marriage is unconstitutional by default.

Those favoring this amendment reason: Alright, then, the people of the state will put it into the state constitution so that it does in fact provide for the law our elected representatives have enacted and that the people of the state have respected for over three decades. Whether one agrees the law should be protected, it is indisputable an amendment would indeed provide protection.

Among those who are strongly in favor of the existing law and want marriage so to be defined are some who, nonetheless, disfavor going as far as making it a constitutional matter. They reason rightly that constitutional amendments ought to be rare in order to ensure the stability of the constitution. I recognize this as the best possible objection to an amendment, and I respect this reasoning.

Its proponents counter, however, with the absolute necessity of amending, because it is very likely the existing law will eventually be overturned by a single court without the agreement of either the legislature or the citizens. Even when such attempts have failed, it has cost states great sums of money to maintain the will of the people. This is not hypothetical but anticipated from precedence.

So, if you favor the existing law defining marriage as one-man/one-woman and if you agree the law you favor is in danger, you would logically vote for the amendment that says the same thing. If you disagree with existing law, you would logically vote against the amendment. Yet, this would not really accomplish anything, because voting against the amendment will not change the law.

A person who feels no law should restrict marriage, would then also logically work to change the law itself. You need to persuade a majority of legislators to enact a new law. If you fail in this, you can still get elected others who will. Fair enough; this is how a democracy works.

But let us be honest about the meaning and effect of the proposed amendment. It will not change anything, just ensure this law is not changed. It has been cartooned as banning same-sex marriage. This is not only nonsense but blatantly dishonest. Same-sex marriage is already banned and has been for 34 years. Yet, the focus of neither existing law nor the proposed amendment is not anti-gay but pro-marriage as historically conceived and defined.

Granted, some arguing for the amendment are anti-gay indeed. They are repulsed by homosexuality and hostile toward gays and lesbians. I would never argue for them. This, however, is their problem but not a problem of either existing law or proposed amendment. The immoral attitude of some cannot logically or morally be used against the amendment. If this attitude should be adopted, it could easily be turned around to bite those who attempt to use it.

In November 2012 we will not be voting about a ban on same-sex marriage. We will not be voting on a law. We will vote on a proposed constitutional amendment. However we vote individually, we must all know what we are doing and why we are doing it. Then vote according to your own convictions.


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  • Mark Birch

    “It has been cartooned as banning same-sex marriage. This is not only nonsense but blatantly dishonest. Same-sex marriage is already banned and has been for 34 years. Yet, the focus of neither existing law nor the proposed amendment is not anti-gay but pro-marriage as historically conceived and defined.”
    _______________________

    If the amendment proposal is all about “pro-marriage as historically conceived and defined”, then why aren’t we proposing to ban divorce? Why aren’t be proposing to re-institute the traditional dowry system? Why aren’t we proposing to stone potential brides who are no longer virgins, as the Bible demands? No, the foundation of this proposal is fundamentally anti-gay and anti-marriage. It is meant to keep certain citizens — all of whom happen to be gay or lesbian — from enjoying the same legal benefits of marriage that others do. It is a discriminatory, biased, prejudiced, antigay proposal.

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  • mishi

    Pernicious nonsense.

    “Some people claim that the proposed amendment banning the building of synagogues in Minnesota is anti-Semitic. Nothing could be further from the truth. It simply defends traditional Christian worship.”

    And disingenuous.

    “Some are repulsed by Jews and hostile toward those they call ‘Christ killers.’ I would never argue for them.”

    Feh.

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    • rosebandit

      Bigotry cloaked in logic remains bigotry.

      Who are trying to convince that the motivation for this amendment is not one motivated by hate and fear, Mr. Alcorn, yourself or others?

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  • leftthehatebehind

    Here we go… the big bigot himself, Wallace Alcorn, spewing his typical hate and bigotry veiled by his so-called Christianity.

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  • MD_LA

    Wow, this has got to be the most LAUGHABLE justification for an Amendment that takes away other Citizen’s Rights. Because THAT’S what it is, Mr. Alcorn… “simple as that!” (as you put it).

    The bottom line is, you, nor I, NOR ANYONE should have the right to literally VOTE AWAY other citizen’s Civil Rights and Marriage Rights. But you dismiss it because “it’s already a law’? Really? Might I remind you, Mr. Alcorn, that Segregation, Women’s Suffrage, Prohibition, and Slavery were ALL legal at one time. And not a SINGLE one of them ended with a “Public Vote”. In fact, most of them were ENACTED by a Public Vote and abolished through either the courts, or an act of Congress… or both.

    I am a California resident, where Same-Sex Marriage WAS legal. I’m telling you Minnesotans now… you’re gonna hear a bunch more twisted “justifications”, like Mr. Alcorn displayed.

    NOM and other conservative backers have been going State-to-State putting these Amendments on the Ballot. And they will use EVERY LIE and scare tactic imaginable to frighten voters into passing this Amendment… TRUST ME. They will even use your School Children. Just you wait. Please, PLEASE don’t fall for their crap.

    This Amendment DOES, by ALL DEFINITION, take rights away from other tax paying Citizens… no matter how Mr. Alcorn wants to cloak it with twisted logic.

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  • bman

    Excellent article.

    It clearly explains how the amendment would protect existing law and the state constitution from being misconstrued by the courts.

    Opposition to same sex marriage is not the same thing as being anti-gay as you also noted. The people of California for example extended as many rights as possible to gays short of redefining marriage itself.

    Thus, its really about protecting the meaning of marriage.

    Same sex marriage is much like polygamy in that its a form of marriage based on values alien to American society.

    There is no civil right to polygamy and there is no civil right to same sex marriage. Both forms of marriage are based on ideas that are alien to the values of American society.

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    • Mark Birch

      “Same sex marriage is much like polygamy in that its a form of marriage based on values alien to American society.”
      _______________________________

      Same-sex marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with polygamous marriage.
      When I legally married my same-sex spouse (after waiting 22 years for the opportunity), we pledged love, fidelity and care for one another for the remainder of our lives together. Are those values alien to American society?

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      • bman

        Mark Birch-> When I legally married my same-sex spouse (after waiting 22 years for the opportunity), we pledged love, fidelity and care for one another for the remainder of our lives together. Are those values alien to American society?
        —–
        You are mixing value systems here while glossing over the values alien to American society.

        Suppose a polygamist said he and his other wives “…pledged love, fidelity and care for one another for the remainder of their lives together.”

        Is love, fidelity, and care for one another alien to American society?

        Of course not. But polygamy is alien to the values of American society.

        And so is same sex marriage.

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      • Mark Birch

        You don’t speak for all Americans, who now support same-sex marriage by a slim majority. Gay couples are not polygamists. Thus, your objection boils down solely to our genitalia. How ridiculous is that?!

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      • bman

        MB->Gay couples are not polygamists.
        —–
        It was not my point that gay couples are polygamists.

        My point is that same sex marriage is not a civil right any more than polygamy is a civil right.

        Thus, your objection boils down solely to our genitalia. How ridiculous is that?!

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      • bman

        MB->Thus, your objection boils down solely to our genitalia. How ridiculous is that?!
        ——-
        The “issue” boils down to the values society wants all children to learn and pass on to their children.

        Different forms of marriage have different moral systems attached to them.

        Whether you agree with a particular moral system or not, its fairly obvious that certain moral systems would be harmful to society if they were promoted, while others would be beneficial if promoted.

        Bride-groom marriage is based on moral excellence on many levels. Its a moral system that merits the endorsement of society to its children.

        By contrast, same sex marriage is based on a system of counter-morality which glorifies maladaptive behaviors, as typified by men having sex with men.

        Its hardly in the best interest of society to promote that system. Because its a counter-moral system, the proliferation of it would eventually harm society and also work against the pro-moral system attached to bride-groom marriage.

        In a nutshell, society needs the proliferation of a pro-moral system, not the proliferation of a counter-moral system.

        Thus, it does not come to genitals as you claimed, but it comes down to which moral system offers the best hope for a better society.

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      • Mark Birch

        @bman, you lack understanding of the meaning of sexual orientation. You appear to believe that sexual orientation is “promoted” and learned. You are wrong about that, and every reputable medical and psychological body of professionals agrees on that. Legalizing same-sex marriage is a recognition that gay people are whole human beings and equal citizens deserving of the equal opportunity to marry — because marriage is good for people. Furthermore, there are two million children in America alone being raised by same-sex parents. Yet you prefer to slander those kids’ parents. Your blathering about “morality” is your subjective opinion, not fact. There is no national consensus regarding the morality or immorality of same-sex marriage. You claim that “harm” to society can be done by same-sex marriage, but just like every one else advocating prejudice against gay people, you have no facts or evidence to back up your claims. Rather, it is ignorance, lies and prejudice which does harm to society.

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      • bman

        Mark Birch->”@bman, you lack understanding of the meaning of sexual orientation. You appear to believe that sexual orientation is “promoted” and learned.”

        There are various theories on sexual orientation and so that question is not settled by science.

        Plenty of research indicates its largely due to what a person learns from their environment.

        The research by Stacey and Biblarz, who promote gay rights by the way, reviewed about 20 years of gay parenting studies. They found that gay parenting researchers had suppressed findings that children raised by gay parents were more likely to adopt atypical gender behaviors compared to the general population.

        New research is also emerging on neuroplasticity that could explain SSA. The basic idea is that the brain rewires itself based on how you use it. For an article on neuroplasticity and sexual orientation see http://www.mygenes.co.nz/PDFs/Ch8.pdf

        Neuroplasticity suggests that maladaptive behavior during youth could rewire the brain and continue to affect someone for life. If that is correct, its very important that we as a society model and promote the learning of behaviors in youth that will serve them well throughout life.

        Rosebandit said the prospects of other people teaching children morals was frightening. If the morals are good, we should want them promoted to our children for their own sake.

        A society based on moral excellence and which promotes it to our children is a good thing for children.

        However, a society that doesn’t care about moral excellence will model moral delinquency around your children and teach them the same. That is what rosebandit “should” have found frightening.

        Whatever sexual orientation may be, society must point its children in the direction of moral excellence. Your reply to post misunderstood that.

        My post is based on the premise that “moral systems” can be promoted and learned. The only question is which moral system does society want to children to learn and pass on to their children.

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  • mishi

    @bman “Same sex marriage is much like polygamy in that its a form of marriage based on values alien to American society.”

    Well, yeah. At one point or another, child labor laws, women voting, and a racially integrated military were “alien to American society,” while slavery, stealing land from Native Americans, and keeping Jews out of country clubs weren’t.

    Societies, in case you haven’t noticed, change. A majority of Americans support LGBT rights, a plurality support same-sex marriage. I saw a story today: In Hawaii, the first state to vote against gay marriage, polled voters now approve of SSM, 49 to 40%. If these strong trends continue, it’s safe to say that within a few years, a firm majority of Americans will hold values in support of gay marriage. Will you be in favor of it then, hmmm?

    And no, maybe not everyone who opposes SSM is anti-gay (though the Prop 8 trial in California showed how bereft of convincing, verifiable, non-religious evidence the opponents are). But sure as shootin’, everyone who is anti-gay is against SSM.

    And you talk about “protecting the meaning” as though you want a chastity lock on the dictionary. Words, in case you haven’t noticed it, evolve. It may be soothing to your anxiety to believe Nothing Ever Changes. But it does.

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  • Rhino

    cant we waste our time on something really important…. this is simple to solve…

    “ITS NOT YOURS, MINE OR ANYBODY’S BUSINESS WHO ANYONE MARRIES, LOVES OR HAS SEX WITH. ITS THERE CHOICE. GET OVER IT.”

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    • bman

      Rhino->“ITS NOT YOURS, MINE OR ANYBODY’S BUSINESS WHO ANYONE MARRIES, LOVES OR HAS SEX WITH. ITS THERE CHOICE. GET OVER IT.”
      —-
      By that logic, you would make every conceivable form of marriage legal.

      Was that your intent?

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      • Rhino

        Ya that’s my intent…. life is short… i am not worry who marries who, nor do i think that my tax dollars that are paying these politicians time to be worrying about this…. there are more pressing issues they should be focusing on… like JOBS!!!

        Remember it was you cant marry outside of your race…. that was a lifetime ago… now it is very common… times change, life changes, things change… let it go… mind your own business… plain and simple.

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      • bman

        bman->”By that logic, you would make every conceivable form of marriage legal. Was that your intent?”

        Rhino->Ya that’s my intent…. life is short… i am not worry who marries who, nor do i think that my tax dollars that are paying these politicians time to be worrying about this…. there are more pressing issues they should be focusing on… like JOBS!!!
        —–
        It seems, by your logic, a brother and sister should be able to marry because “there are more pressing issues like jobs.”

        Perhaps you want to clarify on that?

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  • formeraustinian

    Wow, another one of the very rare times that Rhino and I agree – I would only add to the comment:

    RELIGION NEEDS TO STAY OUT OUT OF GOVERNMENT!!

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    • wowzer

      The problem seems to be that people for the amendment just want the word “marriage” used for man/woman Christian unions. What if a male/female couple isn’t christian? Should we call it marriage? Having the christian ideal of marriage be the government sanctioned law does not separate church and state. Maybe everyone should just have civil unions and leave “marriage” to the churches.
      If those backing the amendment are worried gay marriage will somehow cheapen male/female unions, maybe they should focus on strengthening existing male/female unions instead of believing that denying one group of citizens rights will somehow strengthen their “Christian” unions.

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      • bman

        Wowzer->”What if a male/female couple isn’t christian? Should we call it marriage?”

        That has never been an issue before. Why suppose it would become one now?

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    • Rhino

      “THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO STAY OUT OF IT AS WELL.”

      There are plenty of other things they should be concentrating on.

      former…. what are you thinking??? you are ruining us!!!

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    • leftthehatebehind

      “I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.” -George Carlin

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  • souptime

    USA TODAY… Sharon Jayson 08/24/11
    Marriage Divorce Rates Higher in the South than the Northeast.
    The Bible belt..!
    The States with high rates for Both men & Women Include
    Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas!
    People Marry Early with Poor Education & Younger Birth Rates, Which lead to Higher Divorce Rates…..
    The bible Belt PROVED IT DON’T WORK.
    Even Shotgun Wedding’s.
    Gay Marriage Is Not the Problem to Hetro- marriage..!
    It is Less Education funding..By Politician’s…and lies..!
    Simply.. Google == US first time divorce rates

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  • leftthehatebehind

    bman’s argument is completely ridiculous.

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  • rosebandit

    On October 25, 2011 at 11:26 pm bman wrote “The “issue” boils down to the values society wants all children to learn and pass on to their children… Bride-groom marriage is based on moral excellence on many levels…By contrast, same sex marriage is based on a system of counter-morality which glorifies maladaptive behaviors, as typified by men having sex with men.”

    I think bman is correct in that the vote on the proposed amendment is about legislating morality. I believe it is worthwhile to consider whether one believes that it is an appropriate function of government to be spending time and tax dollars on issues such as this.

    It is also important to recognize the issue for what it is, a political tool to increase voter turnout. Saavy republicans are well aware that social wedge issues such as gay marriage energizes their base of Christian conservatives to get out and vote to do away with the scourge of “men having sex with men”. (Let us all collectively shudder at the profound moral plague that is over-running society. I understand bman).

    There are many like bman who argue for a “pro-moral system” and who are eager to run with this flag up the hill to offer their vote in support of it – and, by the way, elect their Conservative champions in the process so that we can legislate an even greater “pro-moral system” in the future. I am offended by the politics – using a minority group as a means to achieve a political end. I am frightened by the prospects of bman and others who would like to teach my children morals.

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  • AmarieOlson

    I just don’t understand this law! It is supposed to protect the sanctity of marriage, but yet look at the number of straight people that are having affairs and getting divorced.

    Also, being gay isn’t a choice or lifestyle so I find it wrong to say that they are immoral.

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    • bman

      AmarieOlson->”I just don’t understand this law! It is supposed to protect the sanctity of marriage, but yet look at the number of straight people that are having affairs and getting divorced.”

      You correctly identified affairs and the high divorce rate as things that harm society.

      Indeed, your post implies that we should promote a moral policy that opposes affairs and convenient divorce.

      Although the bride-groom marriage amendment would not stop affairs or divorce by itself, it would be an essential part of a complete moral policy that opposes affairs and convenient divorce.

      By contrast, a same sex marriage law sends the message that we are still operating under “anything goes” and would make unprincipled sexual conduct the defacto standard.

      AmarieOlson->”Also, being gay isn’t a choice or lifestyle so I find it wrong to say that they are immoral.”

      Couldn’t you say the same thing about pedophilia?

      In any event, moral excellence is not determined by the passions of the flesh. We must look to the rational self for morality, not to the passions.

      There are gays who have unwanted ssa who morally reject it, for example.

      The average male also has sexual passions that he morally rejects when he chooses to not have an affair, or a divorce.

      The issue, then, is not whether having feelings are immoral, but whether carrying them out is moral.

      If you flatly say its moral to carry such feelings out, then you imply its moral for every male to have sex with as many women he feels attracted to.

      Thus, morality would be no different than the sexual urges one feels, and that can hardly be a good moral system to teach children or to pass on to future society.

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      • Mark Birch

        Apparently, bman is unable to distinguish between pedophilia and consensual/affectional relations between two adults.

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  • AmarieOlson

    He also thinks that he is the morality police

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