A Word In Edgewise: Time’s Passing, Keep Talking


This is the penultimate Edgewise devoted to conversations concerning voting NO on the marriage amendment question November 6 ballot.

The more the YES contingent presses its religious arguments, the more imperative it is to see that religion is not a valid reason for deciding what is actually a civil rights issue. Marriage is a civil right, and was so determined in 1967 by the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.

Mildred and Richard Loving, a mixed-race couple legally married in Washington, DC, were convicted of miscegenation in the Commonwealth of Virginia where such a marriage was illegal. At their trial in 1959, presiding judge Leon M. Bazile intoned:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay, and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

The Lovings were sentenced to one year in jail, suspended for twenty-five years if they moved out of Virginia. They did, and in 1963, the Civil Liberties Union took up their case, citing a violation of the Lovings’ Fourteenth Amendment rights.

That Amendment reads, in part, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

This is the point that needs to be brought home in today’s religiously-charged pronouncements: All Minnesota citizens are entitled to have the same rights under the law–not according to someone’s religious views.

Interestingly enough, in the months before the 1967 Supreme Court ruling, a number of churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, showed support for interracial couples. It could be the same today. No church will have to marry a same-sex couple nor will any individual have to marry a partner of the same sex. A NO vote will not change this; it will simply be refusing to write discrimination against gays and lesbians directly into our state constitution.

Keep explaining; keep talking. Vote NO.

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