In November 2012, Minnesota voters will have a chance to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman from rogue courts and legislators who believe it is their right to redefine and undermine this vital social institution.
The ballot question states, “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.” If adopted, the Minnesota Constitution would be amended accordingly. As Catholics and faithful citizens, we should consider this as an opportunity to share with other Minnesotans why marriage matters for our communities. Our answer is fundamental to all Catholic social teaching.
Jesus was born and lived in a concrete family and was nurtured by a mother and father joined together in marriage. He conferred the highest dignity on the institution of marriage, making it a sacrament of the new covenant (cf. Matthew 19:3-9). Enlightened by this message, Catholic teaching considers the family the first natural society and places it as the center of social life — where we learn to love others and live the virtues necessary to be good and productive members of our communities.
A family founded on the mutual self-giving of one man and one woman is the bedrock of civil society. As Blessed John Paul II reminds us, authentic, strong marriage is where children “develop their potentialities, become aware of their dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny.” If families suffer, children suffer and all of society suffers.
Given the inherent connection between families, the well-being of children and the good of society, it is natural that the state supports and endorses traditional marriage in its laws.
Civil marriage exists in law because societies across history and around the world realized that marriage between one man and one woman provides the most stable environment in which to raise children and keeps biological parents connected to their children. While death and divorce too often prevent it, we know children do best when raised in an intact home by their mother and father. In other words, traditional marriage fosters strong community.
Minnesota’s Catholic bishops have publicly promoted a state marriage amendment because of ongoing attempts by judges and politicians to redefine marriage in our laws. The 2012 amendment will prevent what happened in Iowa and New York, among other places, where a small group of legislators or a smaller group of judges redefined marriage for the whole state.
Help strengthen marriage
The Minnesota Catholic Conference is actively supporting “Minnesota for Marriage,” the ballot campaign promoting the amendment, and will work with a broad coalition of groups to promote the amendment in a positive, pro-marriage and pro-community way. It is helping to organize a grassroots network of volunteers across the state.
The success of the campaign depends upon the initiative of all Catholics to take an active role in helping with the many activities needed to be done between now and November 2012. Not everyone has the same gifts or interests, but there will be lots of opportunities to use your talents and time.
Will the campaign be easy? No. We will be vastly outspent and there will be many cultural forces working against us. They will try to make us think that we are swimming against the tide of history. They will call us names for defending the important institution of marriage. But, we must stand together.
Volunteers are needed at the parish and community level. We will be conducting a massive voter education effort, speaking with all Minnesotans about the amendment and why it is necessary to preserve traditional marriage in our state.
We need parishes to provide prayer teams and support; parish leaders or captains who can assist the pastor in various educational efforts in support of marriage and the amendment; help recruiting other volunteers and organizing activity in the parish and local community; help with voter registration drives, phone calls, door knocking and get-out-the-vote efforts later in 2012. Training and resources will be provided.
Your support is vital to help other Minnesotans see the timeless institution of marriage as the bedrock of civil society and the strongest environment for raising children.
To become informed and involved, and for regular marriage amendment campaign updates, please sign up at: http://minnesotaformarriage.com. You can also contact MCC outreach coordinator Cathy Deeds at (651) 256-7583 or email her at [email protected]. Visit “MCC’s Marriage Amendment Resource Page” website for helpful documents on church teaching on marriage, frequently asked questions in the marriage debate, videos and news updates at mncatholic.org/marriage_and_family. God is the author of marriage. But we are his hands and feet. Through prayer, fasting and hard work, Catholics will work to preserve his design for marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the benefit of families, children and society. Please join us and stand up for marriage today.
Jason Adkins is executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference.