The Message Behind My Yes Vote on the Marriage Amendment
There is nothing little at stake when it comes to our vote on the marriage amendment this November. It is not something we should take lightly, nor is it a matter of this camp versus that camp. Instead, it is responding to the following question, taken word-for-word from what we will see on the ballot:
“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?”
The marriage amendment simply affirms current state law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman and secures that definition into our state constitution, where it can be altered only by a vote of the people. It does not change any existing law, nor does it take away anyone’s rights.
Before I explain why I will vote yes on the marriage amendment this November, I wish to address some common misconceptions about those who support this amendment.
By voting yes, I am not standing in opposition against anyone, but in support of the definition of marriage between one man and one woman. I am expressing to the wider community that I affirm marriage as expressed above. This is different than saying “no” to individuals who do not share the same view on the definition of marriage. My affirmative vote has nothing to do with dislike or animosity for anyone. Rather, in voting yes, I am standing behind the inherent connection between parents and the children produced from their union, which is the purpose for which the state supports marriage in the first place.
Through my affirmative vote, I uphold the fact that marriage is an institution that by its very nature is at the service of the common good. In voting that marriage is between a man and a woman, I am saying that it is in direct service to the upbringing of children. Since it is only the biological union of a man and a woman that naturally begets children, my vote acknowledges the significance of that union in relation to children.
Another message I am sending in my vote is that I want to assure that the decision on the definition of marriage be left to the consent of the voters, and not of politicians and judges. Voting yes expresses that I want the decision for the definition of marriage to be kept in the hands of consenting voters. If marriage is legally redefined without the consent of the voters, parenthood would also be redefined. This would undermine the rational basis for the norms of marital permanence and fidelity that are meant primarily for the well-being of children. When the state’s interest in marriage focuses on the happiness of adults instead of the well-being of children, the whole family code will be turned upside down and kids will be the victims. That affects all of us.
My reason for voting yes is simple. As mentioned above, it is to preserve the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. This obviously has many implications, but in discussing this issue it is important to keep the focus on the definition of marriage. It is often the case that a discussion on marriage turns into a discussion about rights. Yet the critical distinction that needs to be made is between affording someone basic human rights—which everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race or religion is entitled to—and redefining marriage. The question that must remain our focus in this dialogue is what defines marriage – not who can marry. We must begin by asking the former in order to conclude the latter.
Accept this as an invitation to continue the dialogue.
Annie Kopacek, Senior