There’s a brouhaha going on over who has the right to name an amendment question on the election ballot in this state. The Secretary of State has named them, not surprisingly, in a different way than the legislative supporters of both measures wished. So as a result, they’re pissed, claiming that Mark Ritchie, the Secretary of State, has overstepped his bounds.


Yet, in about 30 minutes of searching through Minnesota statutes, I found our answer:


Subdivision 1.Titles for constitutional amendments.

The secretary of state shall provide an appropriate title for each question printed on the pink ballot. The title shall be approved by the attorney general, and shall consist of not more than one printed line above the question to which it refers. At the top of the ballot just below the heading, a conspicuous notice shall be printed stating that a voter’s failure to vote on a constitutional amendment has the effect of a negative vote.


Ah, so the Secretary of State provides the title and the Attorney General approves it and that’s it. It can’t be more than one line long, and has to let the idiot voters know that if they don’t vote at all on it, it’s a vote against the measure.


No mention of the legislature getting the chance to name these puppies.


But let’s get to the heart of the issue. Specifically the amendment to define marriage as being between members of the opposite sex only.


This one has me baffled, and I’ve been trying to filter through the odd reasoning to figure out why people should support it. So, a point/counterpoint featuring quotes lifted directly from the Minnesota for Marriage website.


Point one: why shouldn’t we let everyone get married to whomever they want? Don’t we want to foster more stable family relationships in this society? The response from the other side is odd:

Certainly marriage should only be entered by loving and committed couples but marriage is not simply about recognizing the love and commitment of the adults involved in the relationship. Marriage is primarily about channeling the sexual passion of men and women with its inherent potential for creating children into a stable family unit that provides the best opportunity for any child born of that sexual union to be known by and cared for by her biological mother and father. [emphasis added]


So wait. I married Jenni to channel my sexual passion to make kids? Um… At least they recognized it’s about love. Ah. And for philanderers and those who divorce the old models to go after something else, that means they just needed to re-channel their sexual passion to make other kids?


Point two: How does this possibly weaken traditional marriage?

Gay marriage won’t exist alongside traditional marriage. Our traditional understanding of marriage will be stripped from the law and will be replaced with this “new” genderless definition of marriage.

But how does that hurt my marriage?

Legal experts on both sides of the issue warn of an “immense volume of litigation” against individuals, small businesses and religious organizations. For example, churches and religious organizations can lose their tax exemptions. They can be forced to either abandon their core moral principles or abandon their social ministry.

Fine, fine. I could get sued because gays could marry. I’m not sure how, but still…How does that harm my marriage?

Individuals, small businesses and groups will be subjected to lawsuits and regulatory action if they refuse to condone the “new” understanding of marriage.

So I’ll get sued if I don’t condone gay marriage? Okay. But how does that hurt my marriage?

Perhaps most profoundly, children at a very young age will be taught in school that marriage is between any two adults, no matter what they have been taught at home, in church or in their ethnic traditions. Under the law, those who believe otherwise will be treated as the legal and moral equivalent of bigots.

Whoa…Let’s back this one up a bit. [First off, you should know these paragraphs were consecutive in their section in “Myths & Facts” arguing against the claim that it won’t hurt traditional marriages]. But aren’t we putting the cart before the horse here? There is no law on Minnesota’s books permitting same-sex marriage. But the people supporting this amendment are so terrified of it and so sure that will happen (enacted by “activist judges and politicians,” they note) that we need to lock the possibility away so that it would be more difficult to have happen.


But let’s assume that a law is passed that allows gay marriage. Should we really expect that it would have language as is feared here that says that churches have to support these marriages and allow them (I kind of think there’s a little thing called the Bill of Rights that would prohibit that). And is it reasonable to expect that the law would also require the rest of society to respect and, apparently–according to their claims–have to completely alter our behavior and teachings and treatment of everyone because of the recognition of gay marriage?


And the jump to concern over what kids are taught in school is interesting. If they don’t want their kids taught that it’s OK for homosexuals to marry, could I then expect similar treatment of my kids, under current law–where I can object to them being taught that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman? If it’s what I believe, doesn’t that entitle me to that?


Here’s where their argument completely falls down. This amendment is specifically asking to be exclusionary out of fear. We want to say to the world that it’s so important to our state to not allow a group of people to get married that we’re willing to amend our constitution to deny them the right that everyone else has. A right, I may add, which has had conveyed upon it a special legal, social and economic status for the most part not afforded to homosexual couples.


I think it’s paranoid of them to expect that a law allowing same-sex marriage would specifically then turn around and basically say “or else” to the rest of society. I’d be more apt to think it would say that homosexuals can get married, and the marriages must be recognized legally the same way that opposite-sex marriages are. You can’t tell churches that they have to perform the ceremonies. But in conferring the legal rights of marriage, you can tell companies and organizations bound by the law that they are obligated to not discriminate based simply on someone’s sexual preference.


Yes, it’s an equal rights issue, plain and simple. Rights that the “religious right” doesn’t want to give to people they don’t agree with.


See you tomorrow.