A Word in Edgewise: “Protecting” Marriage by Denying it to Others

Touring the Minnesota Historical Society’s Treasures of the Vatican exhibit in 2008, it didn’t occur to me that the power behind that gilt and guilt would be marshaled against my having the right to marry a partner of my choice.

Perhaps not the entire Vatican, and certainly not just me, but that Rome, through the agency of its local representative, Archbishop John Nienstedt, would make the amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota its prime issue for the 2012 election.

So determined is the Archbishop to deny marriage to Minnesotans he deems unworthy, that he and other bishops are urging parish priests statewide to form committees to help get the proposed marriage amendment passed in 2012.

Nienstadt wrote to priests on October 4 stating, “It is imperative that we marshal our resources to educate the faithful about the church’s teachings on these matters, and to vigorously organize and support a grass-roots effort to get out the vote to support the passage of this amendment.”

This means, to state the rhetoric plainly, that my gay Catholic friends, some of whom are in committed relationships, are being told by their church to vote not only against their own best interests, but against the best interests of their gay friends, Catholic or not, who are in relationships or already married in other states allowing same-sex marriage, or through GLBT-friendly ministers here in Minnesota.

It means that straight Catholics are being told by their clergy to vote for Minnesota to deny basic human rights to their gay family and friends.

Back in 2008, the Mormons rallied enough out-of-state funding to pass Prop 8, ending same sex marriage in California, leaving some 19,000 gay couples who legally wed during one small window of time in marital limbo.

A tirade here about the interference of religion into state affairs is pointless. The lesson to draw from Nienstedt’s ominous directives, and the empirical evidence from California, is that it is imperative that all Minnesotans–GLBTs, straight allies, and citizens who want equal rights for every individual–put funds and muscle into making Minnesota the first state to defeat a repressive, anti-gay amendment.

Cash is important, but come 2012, one’s presence in the voting booth will make the difference. One way–or the other.

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