The Minnesota Catholic Conference expressed disappointment following the state marriage amendment’s defeat at the polls but said its efforts to promote and defend this “cornerstone social institution” will continue.
“MCC’s support of Amendment 1 was rooted in the complementarity of the sexes, the public significance of their ability to procreate, and the fundamental right of all children to be born into an intact family with a married mother and a father, even though this is not always possible,” the MCC, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, said in a Nov. 7 statement.
“These basic human truths remain with or without the passage of this amendment,” it added.
The measure failed by a margin of 51 percent to 48 percent; one percent of voters left the question blank, which also was considered a “no” vote. The measure asked: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in Minnesota?”
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said it was grateful to Minnesotans who supported the amendment effort.
“The Church’s public advocacy of support for the Minnesota Marriage Protection Amendment has always been rooted in our commitment to advance the common good for human society,” the archdiocese said in a Nov. 7 statement. “This is the same spirit that guides the Church’s unwavering pursuit of economic justice, healthcare and immigration reform, and the defense of human life and dignity from conception to natural death.
“We proposed, and continue to do so, that the good of society is best served by maintaining the traditional understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman,” the statement added. “This proposition finds its intelligibility in the order of reason and in the testimony of the Bible.”
In a commentary published Nov. 9 by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Archbishop John Nienstedt said: “We can do nothing less than continue to propose and do our best to live out what we believe. We hold dear these gifts of truth from God, who is love, and who requires us to keep his commandments, in and out of season, throughout the passing of time. I offer my continued dedication to these principles, in all of their manifestations, in order to serve the common good.”
Supporters of the amendment gathered at a Bloomington hotel after the polls closed Nov. 6 to monitor election results and celebrate their efforts over the last 18 months on behalf of the initiative after the Minnesota Legislature voted to place it on this fall’s ballot. The MCC was part of the pro-amendment Minnesota for Marriage coalition.
Although same-sex marriage remains illegal in Minnesota, supporters sought the amendment to prevent the law from being changed by the courts or Legislature.
Among those who stopped into the hotel that night were Dave and Barbara Dries, members of the Cathedral of St. Paul.
Barbara Dries said the issue of same-sex marriage first landed on her radar three years ago when the Iowa Supreme Court allowed it in that state.
“Eighteen months ago when they started the grassroots effort [in Minnesota] and realized we had a chance to have a decision by voters as opposed to having it being imposed on us by activist legislators or judges, it just seemed to make so much sense to get involved,” said Barbara, who volunteered at Minnesota for Marriage’s state fair booth, did leafleting and appeared in one of the organization’s “vote yes” television ads.
“It’s showed me a lot of the political process,” Dave said. “It’s been a great eye-opener for activism in the political sense in the Catholic community — really an increasing awareness in the Catholic community around this issue.”
Jason Adkins, executive director of the MCC, said he was busy in the days leading up to the vote coordinating with other members of the Minnesota for Marriage coalition to make about 400,000 telephone calls focused on getting amendment supporters to the polls.
In the end, the votes fell short. But Adkins said good things have resulted from the effort in Minnesota that, looking ahead, will benefit marriage and other public policy positions the MCC supports.
“I feel like we’ve trained thousands of marriage advocates who can go out and be effective communicators of this important and beautiful institution for decades to come, and that is really an investment in the future,” he said Nov. 6 before the final amendment vote results were announced.
The effort has also brought many members of the Christian community together in new ways, creating the opportunity for future cooperation around marriage and other issues.
“We’ve already started looking at marriage summits for the spring and some other unique initiatives for ecumenical cooperation,” Adkins said.
The MCC, he said, has “started working and talking to our coalition partners about a 10-point legislative plan for strengthening marriage. We’ll be developing that in the days and months ahead and trying to implement that at the legislative level.”
Family is the foundation
Adkins said he is proud of the leadership provided by the state’s Catholic bishops.
“In the face of fierce opposition and what you might call the dictatorship of relativism, they really took a strong and principled stand,” Adkins said. “It was a truly Catholic stand. It was one that spoke truth and spoke it boldly. It also did so with compassion and concern, emphasizing that everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, is created in the image and likeness of God.”
He also said he’s proud of everyone who worked on the campaign’s behalf.
“The future of humanity runs by way of the family, Pope John Paul II said, and if we’re not out there strengthening marriage and strengthening the family, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble as a culture and a society,” Adkins said. “With this campaign, I think we’ve put the building blocks in place in Minnesota for that movement to go forward.”
Q&A on election 2012
In an interview with The Catholic Spirit following his talk Nov. 14 at St. John the Baptist in New Brighton, Jason Adkins of the Minnesota Catholic Conference spoke about prospects for the 2013 state legislative session, which begins Jan. 8.
Q: What will be the Minnesota Catholic Conference’s approach regarding marriage during the next state legislative session?
A: We’ll sit down with the bishops in the coming weeks and chart a strategy to respond to the inevitable push to redefine marriage. Sen. John Marty has already talked about introducing a bill [to redefine marriage].
. . . We’re going to be developing strategies and working with the tens of thousands of people we’ve built in our network over the past year and a half to get them involved. There are a lot of people who are surprised that there already is talk about redefining marriage, which is what we said [same-sex marriage supporters] would do, and regretting their “no” vote on the amendment. They’re contacting us to ask what they need to do to get involved. It’s shocked a lot of Catholics and others out of their complacency and encouraged people to start redoubling their efforts.
Q: Are prospects good for certain pieces of legislation the MCC would support?
A: At the federal level, the opportunity for passage of comprehensive immigration reform — something bishops all over the country have been pushing for for years — is a very real possibility. We’re going to be observing Immigration Sunday in January as we have in years past. Letters will be going out to parishes [soon] giving them resources to mark the day.
At the local level, we are looking at a number of items the bishops have always advocated for: legislation that provides affordable, quality health care to all Minnesotans, for example. We think with the introduction of the health care exchange, access to health care could be expanded. We want to make sure it indeed provides health care, not things like abortion or mandates for contraception. We’ll be working with legislators and we’re excited about those prospects while at the same time wanting to make sure they serve the cause of life and not its destruction.