Outdated Or Worth Preserving?
Q: Why can’t we simply have both traditional marriages and gay “marriages” in Minnesota?
A homosexual marriage won’t affect my heterosexual one, and I don’t care what people do with their personal lives.
Well, like most things in life, particularly when it comes to government, it’s never that simple. For starters, our legal terms have definitions for a reason. We currently (like most societies and faith communities for thousands of years) define marriage as the consensual and conjugal union of one man and one woman, a union intended to be permanent, exclusive, and centered around potential procreation. Our government defines marriage in this way because this type of union provides many benefits to our state as a whole.
Permitting gay “marriage” would not simply allow our current definition of marriage to exist alongside the new homosexual “marriage.” This would completely redefine marriage as we know it. Instead of being a union centered around the potential procreation unique to a male-female union and the benefit of the union to the public, the new definition of marriage would focus merely on the emotional bond between any two people.
The law would treat gender as irrelevant when it comes to marriage. Even an article in the liberal Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy recognized that the new genderless marriage would completely eradicate our marriage laws.
Furthermore, keep in mind that laws do not operate in a vacuum independent of one another. A legal definition of marriage not only determines who can marry, but it also affects the way “marriage” and “spouse” are interpreted in countless other laws and policies such as education policy, family law, and even laws pertaining to hunting licenses—to name a few.
It is entirely misleading to claim that there will be no effect when replacing our current definition of marriage with a new genderless definition focused not on potential children and a public benefit, but on the emotions of two people. No one has ever claimed that allowing gay “marriages” would make a heterosexual marriage less legitimate or endangered. However, a completely new definition of marriage would affect all Minnesotans.
[CLICK HERE to read more about the consequences of redefining marriage.]
Q: Why did government get into the business of licensing marriages in the first place?
If you are married, think back to your wedding day. If you are not married and would like to be some day, imagine your future wedding day with that special man or woman. For most, their wedding day signifies one of their happiest and most significant—an act of selflessness where one commits their life, love, fidelity, and responsibility to another before family, friends, and God for some. The importance of the wedding day is reflected economically—the average couple spent over $27,000 on their wedding in 2012.
Really, this important commitment could occur without a special license from the Minnesota state government. The government doesn’t seem to care about licensing our relationships—we don’t get “best friend licenses” or a license for being a grandmother to our grandchildren. The government doesn’t even really seem to notice with whom we choose to enter into a sexual relationship. So, if the state of Minnesota isn’t concerned about our sex lives and isn’t granting us some sort of governmental “love license” when we marry, why does Minnesota promote the marital relationship in the form of a license from the state?
The answer is easy—children. The basic fact of life is that only the sexual relationship between a man and a woman has the ability to produce children. Now, not every marriage produces children and not every child is born to married parents, but every child certainly has a mother and a father. Government licenses the relationship between a man and a woman who choose to commit themselves to one another in the hope that any potential children they produce will be cared for and provided for by the two people who brought them into the world. This is government’s most efficient and least intrusive way of encouraging responsible parenting and stable families and environments for children.
Basically, our government thinks about marriage like this simple line of logic:
1. Men & Women have sex.
2. Sex makes babies.
3. Babies need someone to care for them.
4. The best and least intrusive way for government to make sure its youngest and most vulnerable citizens are cared for is by encouraging their parents to commit themselves to each other and their potential children.
Think about it–Marriage between a man and a woman means less need for government to be involved in peoples’ lives, less COST to government (and its taxpayers–you and me!), and more stable and healthy environments for kids. These are benefits to everyone.
Q: I am adopted/from a divorced family/a widow(er)/a person who doesn’t plan to have children/a person with same-sex parents.
Why don’t I matter?
The answer is—you DO matter. Immensely. You are made in the image of God and therefore worthy of love, respect, and equal treatment under the law. There has never been anyone else like you, nor will there ever be another YOU. Many Minnesota for Marriage staff and supporters also come from these types of homes.
The reality is, death and divorce are far from ideal situations—no one enters into a marriage planning to be divorced or to lose their spouse. Unfortunately, death and divorce too often prevent parents from raising their children together. We all need to support those spouses and children in our lives who are going through a divorce or loss of a loved one. Plus, with so many families and children experiencing divorce, we also need to be reinforcing the marriages we have—rather than redefining them.
Many people enter into a marriage but don’t plan to or are unable to have children. They wonder, then, whether their marriage is “less legitimate” since our current state definition of marriage centers around the potential procreation of a male-female union. Their marriage is, of course, legitimate! It really doesn’t matter whether a married couple does end up having children. Again, government doesn’t provide marriage licenses simply because someone emotionally bonds with another person, nor does it mandate that every marriage produce children to be legitimate. Rather, encouraging man and woman to commit to each other is government’s most efficient, least intrusive, and least costly way to ensure that any potential children they produce are cared for. Remember, that benefits everyone in our state, even if they don’t have any kids.
Some people raised in same-sex homes feel that because the state’s definition of marriage focuses on the uniquely procreative aspect of the man-woman union that means the state is claiming their parents are bad parents or that they are somehow less of a person. This is a false and unfortunate misconception. No one, and certainly not the state of Minnesota, is claiming that same-sex parents don’t love their children or that their children are inferior to those raised by heterosexual parents.
Let’s all step back and be honest with ourselves. Children raised by same-sex parents are not inferior. However, two men or two women can never of themselves produce their own child—it is physically impossible. Therefore, there is no need for government to use marriage licensing to promote a mere emotional bond. There are no potential children for the government to be concerned about and no public benefits to Minnesota that warrant the government’s involvement in this type of personal relationship.
Furthermore the union of two women or two men is simply not the same as the union of a man and a woman, so why should government pretend it is the same? It is dishonest and insulting to everyone involved to try to institutionalize “sameness” when there are real differences to be recognized.
It is perfectly acceptable and expected of our law to define things as they are. Just as it is ok for the law to define the age of legal adulthood without “discriminating” against or creating an “inferior” class of people under age 18, it is ok for the law to define marriage as the unique union between one man and one woman without discriminating against other types of unions.
Q: So what if marriage is redefined?
A redefinition of marriage would have devastating effects across Minnesota. The first would be a dramatic shift away from looking at marriage as a child-centered institution with public benefits to focusing solely on the desires of any two adults. Our government would enter the business of promoting an emotional connection between two people, rather than looking at the economic, social, emotional, and societal benefits of marriage between a man and a woman.
The second detrimental effect would be the silencing and punishment of those who believe for religious, cultural, or other reasons that marriage is unique to one man and one woman. Remember, changes to legal definitions, particularly those that have existed in nearly every society and profoundly shaped our culture, do not occur in a vacuum.
Changing the definition of marriage would impact countless other state policies. For example, when marriage is discussed in classrooms (as it is for all grade levels and throughout curriculum) schools will be forced to proclaim that genderless “marriage” is the moral, social, and legal equivalent of traditional marriage. Failure to do so would contravene the new state policy on marriage. We’ve seen examples of this in Massachusetts where the court actually ruled that parents have no right to opt their children out of class when same-sex “marriage” is discussed—and no right to even be notified when it is discussed.
Additionally, a change in marital policy would impact Minnesota’s human rights laws. When marriage is redefined, state human rights laws become a weapon to punish people who believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. There are countless examples of this occurring. From wedding professionals being fined for refusing to offer their services to same-sex ceremonies for religious reasons to family businesses having discrimination complaints filed against them for refusing to allow their facilities to be used for same-sex weddings, the list goes on and on.
[CLICK HERE to read more of the many real-life stories of those who have been punished under the law for their belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.]
The Bottom Line:
Marriage between a man and a woman is not outdated. Marriage as the union of one man and one woman matters to EVERYONE! Let’s stop pretending that Minnesota licenses the love, commitment, and responsibility between two people. Certainly, healthy marriages and relationships contain all of those things, but when it comes to government getting involved in our intimate relationships, it is only for the purpose of promoting stability and safe environments for children in potentially procreative unions as a public benefit to all Minnesotans—anything more would be governmental overreach.