Legislators Seek to Redefine Marriage
New bill and court case show immediate need for constitutional amendment
St. Paul, Minn.—Right now, marriage in Minnesota is the union of one man and one woman, but a bill introduced on Saturday would create “gender-neutral marriage laws.”
The bill, the misleadingly named “Marriage and Family Protection Act” (HF 1710; SF 1427), is just one of many reasons that proponents of a constitutional amendment, including the Catholic Church, believe the time is right for the voters to decide whether Minnesota should preserve and protect marriage as being between one man and one woman. In addition to the new bill, there is already a lawsuit pending in the Minnesota Court of Appeals that seeks to have Minnesota’s existing marriage laws declared unconstitutional.
“A small group of politicians, and an even smaller group of judges, should not decide the future of marriage in Minnesota,” said Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota. “The people of Minnesota should have the opportunity to preserve an institution that pre-dates government and has been the bedrock of human society for thousands of years.”
HF 1710, which has 24 sponsors in the House, would make marriage the union of two consenting persons instead of one man and one woman. It would also cleanse Minnesota Statutes and Rules of “gendered” language related to male and female or husband and wife.
“Opponents of the amendment try to argue that the amendment is about bigotry and discrimination, but that simply is not true,” Adkins said. “HF 1710 transforms the institution of marriage from one that seeks to attach mothers and fathers to their children into a whole different one that puts a government stamp of approval on the relationships of adults.”
Adkins continued: “As the new bill shows, the movement to redefine marriage is part of a broader movement, long promoted in the law journals and academic literature, to create a gender-neutral society and transform the institution of marriage into one based solely on consent, which need not necessarily be limited to two people. That development would have far-reaching effects well outside the scope of same-sex relationships. Thus, the movement to enact a constitutional amendment is not ‘anti-gay,’ but instead ‘pro-marriage.’ The marriage amendment does not interfere with anyone’s ability to form relationships with whomever they choose.”
In a 2010 Joint Pastoral Statement on Marriage, Minnesota’s Catholic bishops declared: “Our own State’s constant recognition of marriage is based on the evident fact that only the sexual union of a man and a woman has the natural capability to bring forth new life with the bearing of children. Both faith and reason agree, then, that marriage is an institution central to the life of human society, and touches profoundly on the common good…. It is neither possible for us to change the definition of marriage nor wise to attempt to do so.”
“The time is right for the voters to consider a constitutional amendment to preserve marriage in Minnesota,” said Adkins. “Let the people vote.”