As advocates for redefining marriage prepare to introduce bills on the issue in the Minnesota Legislature, supporters of current state law regarding marriage will be voicing their views at a rally next week at the State Capitol.
Minnesota for Marriage — a coalition that supports the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman — is sponsoring the Minnesota March for Marriage rally and lobby day from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 7, with the rally on the Capitol steps from 2:30 to 3.
The gathering will feature music and a slate of speakers, including Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, and Teresa Collett, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas.
Participants are encouraged to set up appointments with their state lawmakers to tell them “respectfully but firmly” that they don’t want the state’s marriage laws changed, said Crystal Crocker, director of grassroots and messaging for Minnesota for Marriage.
“We’re gathering together and energizing ourselves for this effort, but the most important point of the day is to go in and actually meet with your legislators,” she said. “They work for us and they should be meeting with us.”
The Minnesota Catholic Conference is among groups that continue to talk to legislators about the importance of preserving the definition of marriage because of the benefits it provides to the community and individuals — particularly children, said Jason Adkins, executive director of the MCC, which is part of the Minnesota for Marriage coalition.
“The real question is: Do we need an institution in civil law that connects kids to their moms and their dads. The answer to that is an emphatic yes,” he said.
Gov. Mark Dayton urged lawmakers during his “State of the State” address Feb. 6 to pass a same-sex marriage law, and supporters have said they hope to craft a bill this session.
The push to redefine marriage follows the defeat of the Minnesota marriage amendment last November when it garnered just under 48 percent of the vote. The measure, which was supported by Minnesota’s Catholic bishops, would have written into the state constitution existing law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
While it’s clear that the 48 percent of Minnesotans who voted in favor of the amendment do not want the current marriage law changed, the intentions of some who voted against the amendment are less clear, Adkins said.
“There were people from our experience who voted ‘no’ and thought we should just leave things the way they were and that the status quo should remain,” he said. “We’re hearing from a lot of those folks now, and they are communicating that to legislators.”
Additionally, some new legislators are from districts where the population voted overwhelmingly in support of the amendment, Adkins said, adding that “we’re talking to them about their constituents who believe they should preserve marriage.”
Changing the definition of marriage would have serious religious liberty implications for Catholics and others who support traditional marriage, even if conscience protections are written into the legislation, he said citing two cases in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
In New York, for example, a Catholic hospital was sued by a lesbian couple demanding that the hospital provide benefits to the spouse of the woman who worked there. And, in Vermont, an innkeeper was fined for failing to accommodate a same-sex wedding reception.
Currently, a vote at the Capitol to redefine marriage “could go either way,” Adkins said, so it is important for supporters of traditional marriage to contact their legislators and express their views.
“We’ve got to get the people of Minnesota to say, ‘Keep marriage the way it is,’” he said. “Our message is: Don’t mess with marriage.”
For more information
- The Minnesota Catholic Conference’s website — http://www.mncc.org — features information and resources about the rally, marriage and how to advocate on its behalf. Click on “MN Catholic Advocacy Network (MNCAN)” to stay updated on policy issues and advocacy opportunities.
- The Minnesota for Marriage website — ww.minnesotaformarriage.com — also features information about preserving traditional marriage. To receive emails about events and action items, email Crystal Crocker at firstname.lastname@example.org.