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Case: ‘Vote Yes’ on the marriage amendment

By , Annie Kopacek  |  Wednesday, October 10, 2012 10:27 PM

Chris Gelke presents an opposing view in a letter to TommieMedia.

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.  Logo_Letters_1

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

This item was posted in Letters From Readers, Opinions and has 18 comments so far.

18 Comments

  1. Michael Blissenbach ’09
    Oct. 11, 2012 7:52 AM

    Well-stated, Annie. Thank you for your courage! 

  2. Deanna Ginter
    Oct. 11, 2012 4:24 PM

    The main point of marriage is to allow two people to publicly express their devotion, love, and life-long commitment to one another.  Why should it matter who these two people are?  I understand that a marriage between a man and a woman is one that can biologically produce children, but what happens to those children who have lost their parents?  What happens to the children that were born to parents unfit to care for a child?  Just as a married man and woman who are infertile could do, a married same-sex couple could adopt.  As far as the well-being of a child of a same-sex couple, there are thousands of studies showing that the development (physical and emotional) of these children is not effected by the sex of the parents.  As in any family, the development of children is effected by quality of parenting.  There is no proven reason why people should be more concerned for a child of same-sex parents.

    As a final point, why are we making the main focus of marriage the sex of the people in this union when there are so many other, more important attributes that define a marriage?

  3. Joseph Turner
    Oct. 11, 2012 5:44 PM

    Annie,

    Thanks for pointing out the intelligent distinction which must be made!

    ~JT

  4. Chris Huber
    Oct. 11, 2012 9:56 PM

    Framing the debate merely in terms of a definitional issue ignores the fact that such definitions are themselves merely social constructions that hinge on our societal values. In this particular instance, standing on the old “for the children” argument is a non-starter for several reasons. First, the marriage of heterosexuals is by no means constrained by their ability or willingness to produce offspring. Second, the viability of this definition requires the state’s continued interest in the production of more children. Given projected problems with massive overpopulation in the next century, this is by no means a stable foundation. Third, as was pointed out above and in the other article, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that homosexual couples are in any way deficient in caring for children.

    The phrase “the whole family code will be turned upside down and kids will be the victims” is a telling one. Research on right-wing authoritarianism (which positively correlates with anti-homosexual attitudes) shows a strong proclivity among authoritarians to defend conventional values out of fear that change will produce catastrophe (Altemeyer, 1996). In practice these fears are typically ungrounded, the product of paranoia rather than rational thinking.

  5. Joseph Wiley
    Oct. 12, 2012 12:14 AM

    Good work Annie. I am at SPS and I just want to let you know that all the seminarians are strongly in favor of voting yes. There have been some attemps at intimidation from some people on the vote no side. Yard signs have been stolen and people wearing vote yes shirts or buttons have been verbally abused. Im in favor of taking a stand. We can get way more than 250 students on campus to gather for a picture for Vote Yes. Let me know and we can spread the word.

  6. Thomas Allen
    Oct. 12, 2012 4:40 AM

    While there’s nothing wrong with “defending marriage” or “protecting families” per se, the Catholic Church has very little credibility on matters of homosexuality, marriages outside the Church, or the protecting of children. It’s sad that religious doctrine need be written into the state’s constitution to have authority, one would think it should be persuasive enough to stand on its own logical merits. Sadly,if this is what it takes to get Catholics to follow Church teachings…

  7. Ashley Wittig
    Oct. 12, 2012 11:23 AM

    @Joseph Wiley: You’re in favor of taking a stand?  Against what?  Yard signs being stolen?  I’m sure that has happened on both sides.  Intimidation and verbal abuse?  Are you joking?  While I’m not denying this has probably happened, think about what the issue is that we are debating here.  SAME-SEX marriage.  LGBT rights.  I can guarantee you that most of the people whose rights are in question here have had to suffer through “intimidation and verbal abuse” on a MUCH worse scale, for most of their life, without even wearing a vote no shirt.
    Not passing this amendment would not hurt anyone who currently has the right to marry, which is heterosexuals.  Legalizing same-sex marriage would not take away a heterosexual’s right to marry.  It would not even affect you personally, Joseph.  Assuming you follow through with the seminary training, you will take a vow of celibacy and will not get married yourself, either to the same or opposite sex.  As a priest, you and your church will have the RIGHT to choose which marriages you officiate, and which you don’t.  That is your right as a private institution.  A same-sex marriage amendment or law will have no effect on this right of yours.  Joseph, you are not personally being attacked with the idea of same-sex…

  8. Ashley Wittig
    Oct. 12, 2012 11:25 AM

    marriage. It’s time to open up your perspective and think about those who are being hurt.
    Passing this amendment WOULD hurt others.  It would hurt them based solely on who they are and who they love.  It would hurt those who the government tells them who they can and can’t love.  
    Churches may have this right, but the government should not.  How would you feel if the government decided to outlaw baptism, or if they only allowed worship in Lutheran churches, or Muslim mosques?  I don’t mean that as a joke, really think about it.  How would you feel?  Sad? Hurt? Angry? Discriminated against? Like you were being punished based only on who you are and what you believe?  Yes, yes you would feel these things.  And you would KNOW it is not right.
    Love has no limits.  There is no right or wrong in loving someone.  “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  I’m not asking you to love another man, I’m asking you to love your fellow students, your neighbors and all of God’s children that you as a priest are called to care for.  This amendment is not about who’s right or wrong; it’s about showing love.  Showing support.  Showing you care. 

  9. Ashley Wittig
    Oct. 12, 2012 11:25 AM

    Showing you can look past differences and see the heart of another human being, and saying “I no longer want to see this neighbor of mine suffer.  I’m going to wipe away their tears by standing by their side.”
    That is the love that I want to see from a future priest.  I truly hope you are able to bring this question to the Lord in prayer and petition, and see that this is also the love that He wants you to share as you enter the priesthood.

  10. Joseph Wiley
    Oct. 12, 2012 3:44 PM

    The job of a Priest is to preach the Gospel, minister the sacraments, and continuously forgive people of their sins and lead them into God’s grace so eventually they can be free from their sins. It has been revealed by God that homosexual acts are sin. This is the Truth. It is widely misinterpreted that to say that it is a sin means that we hate the people who our engaged in it. Not wanting to see my neighbor suffer means I want them to be free of the snare of sin. The Church is not casting stones, but offfering mercy and grace. This is not only my personal opinion, but the teaching of the successors of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. I don’t know where Catholics are getting the idea that it is not a sin, but it isn’t from the Church.

  11. Joseph Wiley
    Oct. 12, 2012 11:34 PM

    You are starting from a secular premise and ending with a religious conclusion.   A Catholic Priest should be faithful to Jesus Christ and to the teachings of the Church.  I know that it sounds really mean to say that homosexual acts are sinful to someone who believes that a persons sexual orientation is part of the nature of their very being and they are being unjustly discriminated against, but we believe that this is divinely revealed Truth.  There are plenty of people who have formally been living a homosexual lifestyle who have been set free by the grace of God.  Ultimately the two sides have a completely different understanding of what human nature is and what divine nature is.  We could just agree to disagree, but we all live together in the same democratic state.  Both sides feel that the other is forcing their principles on the other, so there is no way to please everyone.  Se we all have to make a choice between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel of Lady Gaga. 

  12. Ashley Wittig
    Oct. 15, 2012 11:08 AM

    Ah, your response just makes me sad.
    However, what makes me happy is knowing that the number of people who think like you do is declining (I shamefully admit I used to).  I can be happy with knowing that soon, same-sex marriage not only will be legal, but widely accepted, understood and embraced (and will be simply called MARRIAGE). The hateful stigma of sin will be wiped away.
    I know I can’t change your beliefs through a few comments online, and I won’t try.  All I can do is hope that someday you’ll see the beauty of the true love I’m speaking of :)

  13. Sarah Smith
    Oct. 16, 2012 10:48 AM

    Ashley,

    You state that the amendment would not hurt heterosexuals in anyway, but if you think about the reasons why people are voting yes,it is because they are defending the use of the term marriage. By allowing homosexuals to use the same term/ceremony/whatever to affirm their civil union, this is changing the very premise of all the other married couples out there. This is not an argument about “love” this is an argument over a definition. Go ahead and allow gays and lesbians to have a ceremony and to be recognized by the government but don’t do it in a way that changes the sanctity of marriage for all the couples out there that were married with the idea of marriage being a vow between a man and a woman.

  14. Dylan Wallace
    Oct. 16, 2012 9:52 PM

    Sarah,

    Didn’t they say the same thing about interracial couples before the civil rights movement?  That it was “tainting” the “sanctity” of what marriage should be?  

  15. Megan Geraghty
    Oct. 22, 2012 7:00 AM

    Dylan,
    The precivil rights ban on interracial marriage was a racist and artificial impediment to marriage as it has always been understood (between a man and a women). Homosexual marriage on the otherhand is about a redefinition of what marriage means and is. This is clear due to the fact that in countries that have same sex marriage (take France for instance) the legal terms of marriage are redefined. (parent1 and parent 2 instead of mother and father for example). These are major paradigm altering changes that were clearly not needed when interracial marriages were made legal. Therefore the two examples (interracial and homosexual marriage) are not at all analogous.

  16. Dylan Wallace
    Oct. 23, 2012 5:45 AM

    Megan, 

    I agree with you that my example is not totally analogous, but it was meant more for the impact of a certain group of people being alienated based on something unique about them (skin color, sexual orientation).  I would respond by attacking your assumption that marriage cannot be redefined in our society.  What secular reason would prevent the redefining of what marriage is? 

  17. Kathryn Pogin
    Oct. 25, 2012 10:56 AM

    Dylan, I think you’re being too modest. Striking down anti-miscegenation laws, banning polygomy, allowing married women to have credit, own property, not be property themselves– in a very trivial and obvious sense have in fact redefined the legal definition of marriage (and, I think, all for the better).

  18. Trina Sturlaugson
    Nov. 22, 2012 3:42 PM

    I am a student of color dating a white male for over 2 years. For those of you who voted yes, please think about this. Could you look us both in the eye and say “You can’t marry each other because one of you is white and the other isn’t? It doesnt matter the love and work you put in the last two years, one of you is white and the other isn’t.” That’s what was said 40 years ago. And today, the same thing is essentially being said, “Bob, you can’t marry Joe because one of you isn’t female. It doesn’t matter that you love each other, are raising a child together, have been together 5 years. All that matters is that you are two males.”…. Just think if someone came up to you and told you that you cannot marry the person you love. Essentially that is what the amendment sought to do.

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