There was a particularly vile Letter to the Editor in the October 25 edition of my local newspaper, The Chanhassen Villager. The writer feels that individuals opposed to the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, on the ballot in November, which defines marriage as a union only between one man and one woman, are usurping the term “marriage” for their own perverse agenda. Mind you, this amendment in no way makes same-sex marriage legal in the state. It is already prohibited by law. The amendment is unnecessary, redundant, and discriminatory. And I worry that if the amendment passes, that there are children out there, already in for a struggle because they are, by God’s design, different, who will fall victim to the persistent and ugly intolerance that this type of legislation brings out. That letter, and others that have been published, clearly illustrate that.
Most frustrating to me, as a Catholic who believes in separation of church and state, is the fact that Twin Cities Archbishop Nienstedt is all but leading this charge. I understand the Church must be absolute in its teachings. But this is a civil matter. It has absolutely nothing to do with religion. No one is asking the Church to bless a same-sex wedding. When it comes to marriage, the Roman Catholic Church also does not spiritually sanction a marriage performed by a Justice of the Peace, or a Vegas wedding, or even a marriage performed by a religious official of another denomination, Christian or otherwise. As an institution, that’s their prerogative, yet I don’t see any active effort to prohibit these civil marriages from taking place. The literature that turns up in the church bulletin, the media, newsletters, and mailings goes out of its way to declare that this effort is not an affront to those with “same-sex attractions,” who are to be treated with respect, however the fact that so much attention and money has been poured into driving this particular issue (and little focus on other societal ills) smacks of homophobia.
The drumbeat I keep hearing about why this amendment needs to be passed is because of the children, who apparently can only flourish within a family composed of two opposite sex parents. If that’s truly the case, why isn’t The Most Reverend Nienstedt actively campaigning to enact legislation aimed to mitigate a few things that are a far bigger threat to the “sanctity” of marriage and family than same-sex unions will ever be? Evils like:
- Divorce. (Duh.)
- Alcohol. Some of the most abusive and dysfunctional two-parent “traditional” families are the result of a parent with a drinking problem. Shouldn’t the Archbishop be advocating a return to Prohibition?
- Reality TV. Seems to me that shows like The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Bridalplasty, Keeping Up With The Kardashians or Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? do much more to make a mockery of marriage than a civil marriage between a committed gay or lesbian couple.
- Premarital cohabitation.
- Mothers in-law.
- Having children out of wedlock.
- Cancer. Heart disease. Traffic accidents. Pneumonia. I’ve had friends and family who have lost a parent or spouse to these and other devastating life events. Did that mean the kids were ultimately doomed? No, their remaining parent took on the difficult task of raising the children alone, with fewer financial resources, time, and energy to devote to them. If a child can somehow withstand grief that shocks them to the core, why is it so inconceivable that another child wouldn’t thrive with the love and support of two same-sex parents?
So if I’m to understand the Minnesota for Marriage crowd, their view is that we can’t function as a society without maintaining a “traditional” marriage structure? Ah, traditional marriage. Don’t you wish we could go back to the way it used to be, where families arranged a union that was based on what was most financially beneficial to all parties? Where royalty, to keep fiefdoms within the family, were so inbred that traits such as the “Hapsburg nose,” and hereditary diseases like hemophilia were perpetuated for generations? Or as recent as the mid-20th century when women had no viable alternative other than to stay in a marriage wrought with abuse and cruelty? Or traditional marriages in Biblical times where beloved and revered prophets and figures had multiple wives and concubines? How about those traditional marriages in the antebellum south, where couples were betrothed at an early age in what was no more than a business arrangement, and it was commonplace for the men to have dalliances with mistresses and slaves with little condemnation from society?
What a perfect world we lived in. Please vote NO this November.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012