Supporters of Voting Yes on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment will tell you that to do otherwise will redefine marriage for everyone, and cite terrible consequences of the redefinition of marriage.
So will the Minnesota Marriage Amendment actually redefine marriage? And what exactly are the consequences of your vote next Tuesday?
It's hard to tell by looking at the website of Minnesota for Marriage, the primary group supporting the amendment. It's packed with smiling married couples and kids, and plenty of enthusiasm for the institution of marriage, and for sure, a happy marriage is a good thing.
But Minnesota for Marriage are attacking not just same-sex couples, but any family which does not fit their ideal.
Their website states that "children do best when they are raised by their biological parents." That implies that parents who adopt an abandoned or orphaned child, and give that child a new loving home, are somehow inferior. What about single parents? (Minnesota for Marriage attacks single parents, and claims that children from single-parents homes are less likely to graduate from high schools, suffer alcohol and drug abuse, and serious psychiatric illnesses. Any proof of this?) And what about marriages where one partner dies - something that could happen to any traditional family? What about families with loving, caring step-parents? What about families where one parent is in the military and is sent on a long deployment, and the children are raised by the parent who is at home? Even though these families do all that they can to provide a safe and loving home for their children, are none of these families good? Minnesota for Marriage says that is so.
What exactly will happen if you were to Vote No? In Minnesota law, marriage is already legally defined as being between two persons of the opposite sex (Statue 517.01). So, voting No won't change that. Voting No doesn't make gay marriage legal. Voting No prevents a piece of unnecessary legislation.
And what happens if you vote Yes? Again, marriage stays legally defined as between two persons of the opposite sex. No laws will be changed. You won't ban gay marriage. Gay marriage cannot be legalized with your vote. Vote yes will support adding an extra layer of legislation against it.
Minnesota for Marriage are guilty of distracting attention from the real problem. Gays and lesbians getting married will not lead to the downfall of traditional marriage. Traditional marriage is in enough trouble all by itself.
Families, whether traditionally married couples or not, can all face challenges. With 40% of marriages ending in divorce (and every one those failed marriages being a marriage between one man and one woman) there is clearly something wrong, and it's not caused by gays and lesbians. Marriage can be wonderful but it is not perfect. Marriage is not a guarantee of everlasting happiness and contented, well-adjusted children.
There is no cookie-cutter family any more. There is no one-size-fits-all. Our children simply need safe, loving homes. They do not need prejudice against their parents for being of the same sex or for having a step-parent or a single parent or adoptive parents. If your family's priority is to love and care for each other, then it is a good family.
Our society needs to do all it can to support every committed relationship, and every loving family. That includes the marriages between a man and a woman, and it includes the committed relationships between two partners of the same sex. We need investment in organizations which provide marriage counseling, and family services to every family - every family - and every child who needs help. And we need to make that support as widely available and accessible as we possibly can. The benefits to our society from strengthening loving families for every child are obvious.
Do not encourage Minnesotans for Marriage and their attack on any form of family which does not fit their restrictive, blinkered views. Traditional marriage is a wonderful thing and it should be encouraged and celebrated. But traditional marriage is not only way.
Minnesota for Marriage does not limit their prejudice to same-sex couples. Heterosexual step-parents do not meet their standards. Nor do single parents, or adoptive parents, or those widowed, or non-married men and women raising their children together. Who will be next in the firing line if Minnesota for Marriage is given the approval to say what families are good and which are bad?