Right now, attempts are being made in Minnesota’s courts and in the Legislature to redefine marriage or eliminate it altogether. If activist judges or politicians were to succeed in redefining marriage in Minnesota in the future, there would be profound consequences for religious organizations, individuals, and small businesses—and for society itself.
Contrary to what some people think, so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ would not exist in the law alongside traditional marriage, as if it were a different expression of the same marriage institution they have always known. Marriage will be redefined for everyone. Our historic understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman would be replaced by a new legal definition of marriage as the union of two adults regardless of gender.
This new, redefined version of marriage as a genderless institution would be the only legally recognized definition of marriage in Minnesota. Such a radical change in the definition of marriage will produce a host of societal conflicts that government, exercising its broad enforcement powers, will have to resolve. Citizens, small businesses and religious organizations whose own beliefs, traditions, morals or ethnic upbringing are at odds with the new definition of marriage will find themselves subjected to legal consequences if they do not act according to the new legal orthodoxy. .
Legal experts on both sides of the marriage debate agree that the issue has profound impacts on society. Scholars from some of the nation’s most respected law schools have written that the issue implicates a host of issues, ranging from religious liberty, to individual expression of faith, to education and the professions.
For example, these legal scholars predict “a sea change in American law,” and foretell an “immense” volume of litigation against individuals, small businesses and religious organizations.
Those who do not agree with this new definition of marriage as a genderless institution existing for the benefit of adults – not children — will be treated under the law just like racists and bigots, and will be punished for their beliefs. This is already occurring:
- Religious groups who have refused to make their facilities available for same-sex couples have lost their state tax exemption.
- Religious groups like Catholic Charities in Boston and Washington DC have had to choose between fulfilling their social mission based on their religious beliefs, or acquiescing to this new definition of marriage. They have, for example, been forced to close their charitable adoption agencies.
- Nonprofit groups are faced with abandoning their historic mission principles in order to maintain governmental contracts (for things like low-income housing, health clinics, etc.)
- Whenever schools educate children about marriage, which happens throughout the curriculum, they will have no choice but to teach this new genderless institution. In Massachusetts, kids as young as second grade were taught about gay marriage in class. The courts ruled that parents had no right to prior notice, or to opt their children out of such instruction.
- Wedding professionals have been fined for refusing to participate in a same-sex ceremony.
- Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other licensed professionals risk their state licensure if they act on their belief that a same-sex couple cannot really be married. A counselor, for example, could not refuse “marriage therapy” to a same-sex couple because she doesn’t believe in gay marriage. She’d put her licensure at risk.
- Those people – a strong majority of Minnesotans – who believe marriage is between one man and one woman, would be the legal equivalent of bigots for acting on their heartfelt beliefs. Refusal to accommodate and recognize same-sex “marriages” would be the equivalent of racial discrimination. Not only will the law penalize traditional marriage supporters, but the power of government will work in concert to promote this belief throughout the culture.
Perhaps most importantly, shifting the focus of our marriage laws away from the interests of children and society as a whole, and onto the desires of the adults involved in a same-sex relationship will result in the most profound long-term consequences. Such a paradigm shift says to children that mothers and fathers don’t matter (especially fathers) – any two “parents” will do. It proclaims the false notion that a man can be a mother and a woman can be a father – that men and women are exactly the same in rearing children. And it undermines the marriage culture by making marriage a meaningless political gesture, rather than a child-affirming social construct.
When marriage ceases to have its historic meaning and understanding, over time fewer and fewer people will marry. We will have an inevitable increase in children born out of wedlock, an increase in fatherlessness, a resulting increase if female and child poverty, and a higher incidence of all the documented social ills associated with children being raised in a home without their married biological parents.
Ultimately, we as a society all suffer when we fail to nourish a true, thriving marriage culture founded on the truth experienced by virtually every civilization in every nation since the dawn of time – marriage is the union of one man and one woman.