ECM Editorial: Marriage amendment supresses freedom

Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, looks at his parents and sees their marriage as a testimony to love, commitment and responsibilty. Their marriage, he says, is also a sign that the married couple will be in each other’s lives forever.

Carlbom, a gay man originally from North Branch, wonders why Minnesota is keeping him and his partner from having the same sense of security that his parents have.

The Editorial Board of ECM Publishers Inc. joins Carlbom, Minnesotans United for All Families and more than 500 organizations in opposing the proposed marriage amendment, which seeks to define marriage in our state constitution as a union between a man and a woman and would limit the freedom of same-sex couples to marry.

The key word here is freedom.

America was not founded on the principle of oppression. America was founded on the principle of freedom.

Passing the amendment would place limits in our constitution on the freedom of same-sex citizens. It would erect a barrier to continuing the discussion of same-sex marriage, for today’s voters and for future generations of Minnesotans who might want to reopen the debate.

Voters would, in fact, be making choices for those future generations. Voters would be telling many of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that marriage won’t be an option for them.

That’s not freedom, that’s oppression, and we are concerned what message that sends the world about our state. What kind of Minnesota do we want to present to the world?

The implications of that message may reach farther than we realize. We believe the marriage amendment, if passed, would limit the ability to recruit and retain top talent. Minnesota companies such as General Mills and St. Jude Medical have spoken out against the amendment, saying it would hurt their ability to recruit and hire a diverse group of employees.

We are also concerned about making rash decisions. Americans once limited the voting rights of women and African-Americans. Times change. Moral climates change. Just like our views changed on the voting rights of women and African-Americans, some day the majority of Minnesotans might find it acceptable that same-sex couples marry. Perhaps they already do. Why stifle the conversation with an ill-considered constitutional amendment that serves only one point of view?

The group Minnesota for Marriage supports the amendement and believes that same-sex marriage deprives a child of an opportunity for the best environment to grow up in. Children do best when they are raised by a mother and a father, the group states.

While we found this a compelling point, we believe children will thrive in environments in which they are loved by two parents, regardless of the gender make-up of those parents.

We think it’s important that people love whom they wish to love, and have an opportunity to marry whom they wish to marry. It’s a simple case of treating people with the same kind of respect with which you would want to be treated.

But at the end of the day, this isn’t a debate solely about marriage.

It’s a debate about law and governance, and we think it’s wrong that the question is on the ballot at all. There is already a law on Minnesota’s books defining marriage as an act between a man and a woman. That means that today, without any amendment being approved or disapproved, Minnesota does not legally recognize or sanction same-sex marriages.

That will not change regardless of how Minnesotans vote on the marriage amendment. If the amendment fails, same-sex couples will still not be allowed to legally marry  in Minnesota.

For these reasons we oppose the marriage amendment.

-Editor’s note: This editorial is a product of the ECM Editorial Board. The Mille Lacs County Times is part of ECM Newspapers, Inc.

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