Commentary: A Bill for an Act
1.2 proposing an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution; adding a section to
1.3 article XIII; forbidding marriage between individuals of differing races.
A bill being considered for the 2012 Minnesota Legislature will ask members to consider a constitutional amendment banning interracial marriage. Supporters of the bill believe it is time to address this issue as part of a larger social policy agenda. One member was quoted as saying that, “Interracial marriage is against the laws of god, it isn’t decent or natural, and we should not be exposing our children to such things.” Another member suggested that there is “no parallel to the gay marriage amendment discussed in the 2011 session,” and the two should not be compared.
Just kidding. Pullin’ your leg. There is no amendment being proposed to ban interracial marriage. But, what if there were? Do you think the religious community would support such an amendment? Would there be a reaction from the general public? What would be the reaction from the African American community? Would there be outrage? Would there be a total rejection of the very idea of denying someone access to a civil contract because of their skin color….a factor that is totally out of their control? Would we as citizens allow our elected officials to bait us into racial discord simply to distract us from the larger and far more important issues we are facing?
75% of US adults favor marriage or domestic partnerships/civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. (Harris Interactive)
When all is said and done, the argument is really not about whether homosexuality is a sin or not, whether gay marriage is an attack on the sanctity and tradition of marriage, about protecting our youth from recruitment, or whether any particular denomination has the right to refuse to perform a wedding ceremony between two adult individuals. It is about denying a legal adult access to a civil contract. It is about discrimination. It’s that simple.
We should not just simply ignore the absurdity of the kind of ridiculousness that is being presented as fact by those who support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Minnesota. There needs to be a demand for a rejection of the propagation of this kind of myth and misinformation. No other minority community would sit by idly and accept this kind of ludicrousness. But, for some reason we, as a community, are expected to take in on the chin. As legal, competent and taxpaying citizens we are expected to accept being denied our right to access a civil contract. And, do you know why? Because the people who perpetuate this nonsense believe we are too scared to publicly identify ourselves to protest of their ideas. Well, we are not. It is time to demonstrate our resolve by showing ourselves in larger numbers in public rallies, by boycotting businesses that only value our dollars and not us, and by making sure that elected officials know that there are political consequences when they support such nonsense.
Happiness is so hard to find for people, so they find someone who makes them happy and we want to take that away? We say you can be together but you can’t marry them? That’s wrong and I don’t agree with it.” MN Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove
Please, don’t allow anyone to insult your intelligence by telling you that as a GLBTQ person, you have access to the same marriage rights as everyone else, and that to achieve them you just have to marry someone of the opposite sex. That is like telling an African American that they can sit at the front of the bus if they just change their skin color. Yes, it is. Of course, it sounds like an absurd notion because an individual who is African American cannot change their skin color. Guess what, I cannot change my sexuality either. Believe me, it is not a choice. I cannot truly think of anyone who would choose to be gay. Please don’t misunderstand, I have learned to be proud of who I am and I have no regrets. (The majority of my friends who identify as GLBTQ feel the same way; Proud, self respecting, and out.) But, one’s sexuality is not a choice.
“If it is true that sexual orientation is innate, that it is God given, then what does that mean to the moral force of your argument (?)…. How many more gay people must god create before we ask ourselves whether or not god actually wants them around (?) …..If we pass this, if we put it on the ballot, if this becomes part of our constitution, history will judge us all very, very harshly. …I think …on this issue.. there will be some justifiable shame.” Rep Steve Simon, DLF-Hopkins-St. Louis Park in committee discussion with fellow legislators in the 2011 Legislative session.
And, finally, I do not argue with the right of any religious institution to deny performing a wedding ceremony for same sex couples. That is the right of the denomination. However, that same religious institution or denomination does not have the right to tell which civil contracts I have a right to access and which I do not. Accessing a legal, civil contract is a civil right, not a religious one.
I urge voters to remember this when they go to the polls next fall. In the meantime, members of the GLBTQ community (and our friends, families and allies) need to be vocal and visible, we need to communicate with our elected officials about the impact of this unnecessary proposed constitutional amendment.