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The time for marriage equality is here

Gay Marriage supporter
MinnPost photo by Beth Hawkins
A demonstrator shows support of gay marriage at the Valentine's Day rally at the Minnesota State Capitol.

A massive Valentine's Day rally at the Minnesota State Capitol, which included more than a hundred clergy and religious leaders calling for the state to allow same-sex couples to marry, is no longer surprising.

Sen. John Marty
Sen. John Marty

Times have changed.

In 1997, when the Minnesota Legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), to "defend" marriage against same-sex couples, only a handful of legislators voted against it, and even fewer were willing to speak against it. Back then we received stacks of letters, many filled with hateful comments, condemning us for supporting the right of all people to marry the person they love.

Over time, there has been growing recognition that LGBT families deserve fair treatment. Even the strongest proponents of the constitutional amendment have changed their strategy and rhetoric in response to shifting public opinion. Ten years ago, Michele Bachmann's legislation would have amended the constitution to ban not only marriages, but also civil unions. Now, less than a decade later, the amendment's authors declined to put a civil union ban in their proposal, knowing how unpopular that would be.

Shortly before the election, a gay TV reporter asked the spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, the pro-amendment group, "How is my relationship less valid than others?" She responded, "[It is] certainly not less valid. ... We understand that same-sex couples can love each other and commit to each other." This from the spokeswoman leading the fight against marriage equality! That's a huge change.

Because of our faith, not in spite of it

Opponents of marriage equality often speak of religious "truths" to make their case. My religious faith teaches that we are to treat others the way we would want to be treated. My church, like many others, promotes making a sacred, lifelong bond between couples who love each other. It is because of our faith, not in spite of it, that we promote marriage and work to strengthen families of same-sex couples just as with heterosexual ones. For us, the countless scripture passages on love and commitment, on honesty and fidelity, on compassion and understanding, and on the importance of parents caring for each other and their children are more compelling than the handful of verses that have been used by others to argue against homosexuality.

The religious leaders who came to the Capitol on Valentine's Day asking for marriage equality aren't asking others to share their religious beliefs; they respect the beliefs of those who disagree. They don't want the state to interfere with the religious beliefs of any of its people. Just as a church or religious denomination that objects to same-sex marriage has the right to refuse to solemnize those marriages, a church or religious denomination that believes in the value of same-sex marriage should have the right to solemnize those marriages.

The current law banning marriage doesn't stop same-sex couples from falling in love, from making commitments to each other, from sharing their lives together, from raising children, or from growing old together. Their love and commitment is a wonderful thing and healthy for society. There is no rational reason for denying their families the same rights and responsibilities that other married people have, including the right to pension and Social Security survivor's benefits, the right to family and medical leave, and numerous other benefits and obligations.

They've been waiting a long time

Many of these couples have been partners for more than the three decades that my wife Connie and I have been married, yet they still do not receive the same legal protections and rights that we have. They have been waiting for a long time.

I am confident that we will pass marriage equality legislation this session. Some would rather that we postpone the issue for a few years, but justice requires that we provide equality for LGBT families, and that we do so now.

Human rights for any minority should never be subject to popular opinion. Even so, the legislators who believed it should be determined by a statewide vote, got their way. And they lost.

We will pass legislation allowing all Minnesotans to marry the person they love — not because the majority rejected the amendment last fall, but because it is the right thing to do. The point here is that the opponents can no longer claim to have strong backing from the public.

Conversations helped build understanding

The conversation about marriage equality that began last year in communities around the state helped build understanding of the value of all families. Passing legislation to allow marriage for all couples will not stop this conversation. Year after year, Minnesotans will continue gaining understanding and respect for those who are different from us.

Now, we can act. This year, we will finally give all Minnesotans the freedom to marry the person they love. And that's a beautiful thing.

John Marty, DFL-Roseville, is a state senator. He first published this article in his newsletter, "To the Point!" which is published by the Apple Pie Alliance.

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Comments (11)

Legalizing Same-Gender Marriage

Has an excellent chance of actually helping opposite-gender marriage in a couple of ways:

First, adults and adolescents raised among "conservatives" will far less pressure to enter into opposite-gender relationships with people to whom they have no basic attraction (in order to "prove" that they are proper and acceptable males or females),...

and we will no longer see the challenge to children and spouses that arise when the other spouse, who entered into their relationship because of societal and religious pressure NOT to be gay, comes to the realization that they can no longer continue to live in a way which violates their most basic, God-given instincts and "comes out" as GLBT.

Second, our "conservative" friends, including especially their theologians, clergy and counselors will be at least somewhat likely to stop projecting their discomfort with the ways their own ideas about gender and marriage are becoming more and more destructive in our current world,...

and will (eventually) begin to search out more open and inclusive models of gender and marriage (because there's no longer any societal/political advantage or useful purpose in blaming gays for the reality that their beliefs about relationships and marriage are no longer leading to long, successful, and happy ones).

It is quite possible that this change in approach and attitude will lead to marriage and relationship counseling that takes an honest view of human nature as its basis, and is, thus, far more successful which will lead to the fall of the divorce rate in the Bible Belt and among "conservatives," a rate which is, in reality, much higher for them than it is among "liberals" and more religiously-moderate areas of the country.

Benefits

Another benefit of legalizing gay marriage is it helps to attract young professionals. Studies show that young people increasingly don't care what a person's sexual orientation is--it's simply a non-issue to them.

What is an issue for them though is to work in a vibrant city full of creative and inventive people. When you can code or design from a computer anywhere in the world, what's the incentive to do so from the Twin Cities? Because it's a cook place to live. And being welcoming to gays is one tool of many we can use to attract young professionals. Otherwise they can just as easily do their jobs from San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, or any of a hundred other cities. Give them one more reason to come here instead.

Couldn't Decide?

Couldn't decide between perpetuating a stereotype ("creative and inventive people") and appealing to elitism ("young professionals")?

Your Resentment is Showing

Clearly some of us, having an inferiority complex regarding our own lack of creativity or ability to procure "professional"-level employment, rather than looking in the mirror for the ways that that inferiority complex and other internal issues, perhaps, are causing us to sabotage our own efforts to build the life we want,...

project our own insecurities outward and fill ourselves with useless resentment directed toward those whom we identify as having the things we SHOULD have if the world weren't stacked against us,..

which of course it ISN'T, any more than it's stacked in favor of GLBT folks, who, if the truth be told have just as many schlubs among their number as most other groups,...

and can still be fired and denied housing in many other states (though not Minnesota) just for not being straight.

But the fact remains that many GLBT folks have made themselves over achievers as a way of compensating for not being able to be involved in the adolescent dating scene, to seek romantic relationships they would find rewarding and fulfilling, nor to express their love and attraction to those who are, for them, it's natural target.

Since creativity and inventiveness are absolutely REQUIRED for those who have compensated in this way in order to deal with the adversity that is a fact of their everyday lives in youth and adolescence, there are those in the GLBT community who possess those things in large amounts and leave their adolescent years having attuned themselves to the high levels of discipline and hard work required to accomplish above-average levels of achievement.

In other words, those among the gay community who do have high levels of creativity and inventiveness, and achieve professional-level employment early in their lives, have WORKED VERY HARD to get there. Thus what you seem to want to dismiss as a "stereotype" is, in some cases, the truth.

If you would like to achieve the same, talk to some high-achiever GLBT types, and find out how they do it. Most will be happy to help you figure out how to get there yourself.

If, of course, you can overcome your resentment.

But be prepared, hard work, creativity and inventiveness will be required.

Such Creativity

I was hoping for a response from Todd, so I could address his comment. I find it odd that GLBT folks of greater age and lesser station in career than young professionals are considered less worthy.

Greg, your bullying behavior and trollish screed only serve to encourage me to continue to add my voice to the conversation.

P.S.: If interested in my professional creativity, my portfolio of U.S. and international design and utility patents, can be accessed online. Search on Steven Rose, Minneapolis.

Thank you, Senator Marty!

Dear Senator Marty,

Our family is grateful for all the work you have done to see marriage equality in Minnesota.
You have spoken out with passion on this issue longer than anyone we know.

Each time I read your words or hear you speak on this issue that is so dear to our hearts, I am filled with hope.

Families like ours will never forget those who led the way in Minnesota. You are at the top of the list.

Our love and deepest thanks .... Randi Reitan

Marriage Equality

I am thrilled that Minnesota is becoming so enlightened (and a little embarrassed that California, the supposedly wackiest, most liberal state, is so behind the times!) Here's a musical explanation for any of your friends who still don't get it: www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Gz3yx2YGs

Senator Marty imposing his religious beliefs

Sen. Marty stated:

"For us, the countless scripture passages on love and commitment, on honesty and fidelity, on compassion and understanding, and on the importance of parents caring for each other and their children are more compelling than the handful of verses that have been used by others to argue against homosexuality."

Senator Marty wants to impose his religious beliefs on the state of Minnesota. He is asserting that his church's view of homosexuality be imposed on normative Jews, Christians, Muslims, and anyone else who dissents from his orthodoxy. Instead of "tolerance", homosexualists like Sen. Marty will try to forcibly compel acceptance of abnormal and destructive behavior.

In doing so, Senator Marty condemns normative Judaism. He is one step away from descending into that dark, vile, foul-smelling pit.

Sen. Marty wrote:

"This year, we will finally give all Minnesotans the freedom to marry the person they love."

Because Senator Marty issued this comprehensive statement, he advocates for the abolishment of Minnesota Statutes 517.02 and 517.03. This is the same comprehensive statement issued by Minnesota United for All Families: "Don't restrict the freedom to marry". I have yet to hear a cogent argument from the homosexualists why their argument for a "freedom to marry" would preclude polygamy or save the other restrictions in MN Stat. 517 et. seq.

Sen. Marty wrote:

"Passing legislation to allow marriage for all couples will not stop this conversation."

This is not only intellectually dishonest, it is completely dishonest. Once legislation is passed, the State will forcibly compel compliance of their new social order.

The "conversation" was not to be had in the first place, because the subject was never open to discussion. Normal marriages, Mr. Marty, are defined as a man and a woman forming a union, engaging in their biological imperative of the procreative act, forming a family unit, and raising the successive generation. That definition, Mr. Marty, remains as objective fact and an objective truth - irrespective of your attempt to engage in cultural destruction and perpetrate a fraud against civil society.

I fully expect the usual ad hominem attacks, straw men, ignorance of Torah. Go right ahead.

Okay, I'll bite

"Normal marriages, Mr. Marty, are defined as a man and a woman forming a union, engaging in their biological imperative of the procreative act, forming a family unit, and raising the successive generation...."

Yeah, but "normal" is not universal, Neal."Normal" is defined by age, religion, geographic location, learned culture, economic conditions, technological innovation and a host of other factors.That's why not all women on the planet wear burkas, despite it being utterly normal to many.

And I guess as for your "cogent argument" that gay marriage won't inspire mass polygamy, maybe you could look to, say, Iowa which allows gays marriage and then compare their polygamy rate to say that of Utah (#1 polygamy rate in the country) which outlaws gay marriage.

I don't know anything about Torah---I was raised Lutheran. Torah teachings weren't "normal" for me.

The Torah

The books of the Torah may not be familiar to a Lutheran, but perhaps they should be. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Any argument that can be made for homosexual marriage can be made for all alternate forms of "marriage", including polygamy. As long as all parties to the marriage consent to the structure, who are you to judge it? Once marriage is redefined to mean everything, it will mean nothing.

But----

I'll repeat that Iowa and Utah don't seem to hold up to your prediction. When Iowa and Canada and the UK and the rest become a bevy for polygamists --- all directly linked to homosexuals --- then I'll take you seriously.

My father warned me not to debate with the religious. It's too easy for them to fall back on: "I know the truth and you don't because my religion is right and yours isn't." There's nowhere to go in those arguments.So I'll stop.

But you're more then welcome to join us at my wedding. You might have fun!