Seven days to go. Yes, this is a political topic, and I know we’re all tired of political statements, but this isn’t politics to me. It’s human and civil rights.
I struggle referring to the proposed amendment as the “marriage amendment” because it evokes none of the feelings of love, equality, and respect that I have come to understand through my own marriage. Rather, it conveys the need to suppress or attack these feelings in others. Besides, at its heart, it’s not about protecting marriage. It’s about being anti-gay. It’s about cementing the illegality of gay marriage in this state.
While I believe the amendment is disrespectful and discriminatory, I think you can trust that I will be neither in my counter-argument. You will read no hate, no anger, and no sarcasm. Here are ten reasons why I think you should vote “no” for this proposed amendment.
10. I believe society has more important things to worry about. I’m thinking about poverty, starving children, education, better healthcare, national defense, jobs, pollution, our place on the world stage, and human rights, among other things. Taking care of these things makes the world a better place. The amendment does not. BTW, gay marriage is illegal in MN, regardless of this amendment. Amending the state constitution makes it harder for the legislative branch to overturn the discriminatory law.
9. It’s not fair. Well yeah, life isn’t fair. However, I don’t think that means we work to increase the divide. How ridiculous is it to make things more fair for people who are straight by making things less fair for people who are gay? We do not make ourselves better by teaching children that discrimination is acceptable. We do not rise as a society by pushing people beneath us.
8. Millions of dollars have been wasted. And millions more have been spent to fight this attack on civil rights. I’m not going to call out any religious, political, or other organization, but I imagine people with greater needs would have benefitted from the money that was spent in support of this amendment. The dollar amounts will only increase as the sides continue to fight after the amendment passes or fails.
7. It does not help to make my life as a Minnesotan better. There’s no effect on my marriage. But if you, as a Minnesotan, think your life will be better or your husband-wife marriage is safer because the amendment passed, you’re wrong. It’s only a definition that excludes people who are not you. Our marriages are in no more danger than they are by “allowing” interracial or interfaith marriages. From my point of view, the proposal harms Minnesotan society by helping it discriminate against its citizens.
6. It infringes on Civil Rights. It uses the state constitution to exclude citizens. Certainly, the state constitution was not written to put certain citizens beneath other citizens via vote or mandate. If it’s not something everyone can have, it’s not a civil right. If it’s not a civil right, it has no place in a document that governs civil rights. I cannot and will not, in good conscience, vote for something that’s purpose-for-being, its raison d’être, is to be used to discriminate against people.
5. It allows a religion’s influence upon the state constitution. True, there is no mention of religion in the proposed language. But this is a religious push, make no mistake. I was raised a Lutheran and I still believe in God, but that doesn’t mean I want my religion or any other religions to be the law that governs all. And that is the precedent this amendment sets. If you don’t believe the state constitution should tell you to follow Catholic, Talmudic, or Sharia laws, then why vote for this one?
4. It is a push for more government in an overly-bureaucratic society. It seems a bit oxymoronic to demand less government, but to push for more bureaucracy, to tighten the purse strings while spending money on an unnecessary campaign against your own citizens, to claim the moral high ground atop a hill of prejudice.
3. My religion doesn’t tell me it’s wrong. Wait, what? I grew up in a church-going, Lutheran household. In church and Sunday school, I was not given any direction on marriage or homosexuality, though certainly marriage was included in a parable or two. I did not attend sermons or read stories about Leviticus, the oft-quoted book used to condemn this topic. My religion taught me about forgiveness, respect, and love.
But the Bible – the book of my religion – well, that says very specific things about homosexuality, right? True. That can’t be argued. But look at all the other rules in Leviticus. I don’t want to generalize, but most of us are not following EVERY rule described there. Most of us are not following MOST of the rules there. If you believe one rule in Leviticus is the absolute law of God, you have to believe all the rules of Leviticus are the absolute laws of God. Otherwise, we are selectively following the Bible. Which means a choice. And if you believe in God, then you CAN believe he gave you the ability and the intelligence to make the right choices. It means you can change your mind.
The Bible defines marriage several different ways, but it defines only one way to love my neighbor: as I would love God. My religion tells me this, but it doesn’t tell me to follow Leviticus. And really, we shouldn’t need a book or a deity or a sermon to tell us we need to love and respect other people.
2. The heart of a gay marriage is no different than my own. It’s about two people in love, respecting each other, having a desire to create a family that may include children, and in the end, making the world a better place. Gender doesn’t play into that any more than saying the genders involved in a man-woman marriage are responsible for the divorce rate.
So those are nine of my reasons, but I have a confession to make: I lied. There’s really only one reason I’m voting NO.
1. There are gay people I love. I can proudly say, I’m related to people who are gay, I have close friends and acquaintances who are gay, and I work with people who are gay. I don’t want them hurt. I don’t want them discriminated against. I want them to have equal rights. I probably see people who are gay every day who keep it secret, fearing that I will hate them or be disgusted by them. That’s heartbreaking, thinking that someone believes I am, or anyone is, capable of such a thing. I’m not – and I can’t imagine wanting to be – someone that looks into his child’s eyes, his sister’s eyes, his neighbor’s eyes, or a stranger’s eyes, and says that I think less of them because they are gay.
So yes, I wrote this for selfish reasons. But since I’m doing it to help people, it feels less selfish than the reasons that people use for voting yes. I would as vehemently defend the rights of all my friends and acquaintances, regardless of race, religion, culture, or anything else. I treat them all with respect because it’s the right thing to do. And I expect the same in return. To me, that’s the basis for my humanity.
Maybe it’s even a little naïve to think I can convince the country to change its way of thinking. But for now, I’m content in trying to convince a few of my fellow Minnesotans to think about things a little differently. To the people backing this amendment, with all due respect, I feel sorry for you. I am sorry for the time and effort and money that you are expending to ensure that your fellow Minnesotans cannot enjoy the same rights you enjoy. And I am especially sorry that you feel your time and effort and money would not be better spent helping those that truly need these things, like children, the sick, and the elderly.
To those of you undecided, I’m not asking you to love people who are gay. I’m not even asking you to like people who are gay, likeable though they may be. This is simply a plea to respect your fellow human beings and to show them that the people of Minnesota do not tolerate the concept of second-class citizens.