Recently, my friend David decided to write a letter to the editor expressing his concerns with the marriage amendment. Prior to sending the letter to the newspaper, he shared a copy with me. The letter focuses heavily on the separation of church and state and references some of the Marriage Minute videos I’ve talked about in the past (here and here).
With permission, I’ve included a large part of the letter below:
…A YouTube video by Minnesota for Marriage from September 5 states: “We believe that marriage was created by God as the union of one man and one woman for a very specific purpose.”
…I know many Christians who fundamentally disagree with that definition. Many are working with the coalition of 636 faith communities, businesses and organizations partnering with Minnesotans United for All Families to defeat this amendment. Like me, they see this as an affront to religious liberty as it would enshrine one particular religious viewpoint into our state constitution. And that should worry all of us.
That same video later claims that this amendment “ensures that the voters [and not activist judges] are the ones in charge of the conversation.” And by “voters,” the meaning here is clearly “conservative Christians” who want to shut down the conversation.
In a landmark 1971 case, Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Supreme Court of the United States founded a three-prong test for determining if government action violates the First Amendment. First, the action must have a secular legislative purpose. Second, it cannot advance or inhibit religion. Third, it must not result in “excessive government entanglement” with religion. The action is unconstitutional if it fails just one of these tests.
This amendment doesn’t even pass muster of having a secular legislative purpose. If science or psychology could demonstrate that homosexuality were chosen or detrimental to society, there would be no question that this amendment is a good idea. But it doesn’t. For example, a 2010 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study found the main factor in raising healthy children was a two-parent home, the sex of either parent being immaterial. (Senator Al Franken cited this study last year during the Defense of Marriage Act repeal hearings.)
…the amendment does nothing to defend marriage, bolster the economy, prevent divorce, or protect the interests of children—things conservatives claim it will do. Rather, its purpose is to exclude an entire class of citizens to enshrine a religious doctrine. They want it both ways: to tell government how to treat its citizens, yet scream “persecution!” when the boot’s on the other foot.
Minnesota is my home, and one of the things I love most is that we’re generous and fair people—and one of the things we don’t do is write constitutional amendments to silence those who disagree with us. Because we’re Americans first before we’re Minnesotans, and at the heart of our Constitution is the idea that we have to preserve freedom at all costs, even if we may disagree with what our neighbor says—or believes.
If shutting down conversations for any reason makes you uneasy, please vote “no” on November 6th.
Thanks, David, for sharing your point of view so effectively.