The Minnesota Catholic Conference and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops offer a variety of educational resources to explain the church’s teaching on marriage and answer questions in regard to Minnesota’s Nov. 6 ballot measure that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The following is based on information from the USCCB and MCC, including a recent Catholic Spirit interview with MCC executive director Jason Adkins.
- What is marriage?
Marriage, as instituted by God, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love. It is a natural and universal institution that unites a husband and wife and any children born from their union. It is not something that government creates or makes up.
Government and religious communities affirm, recognize and support the institution because of the importance of marriage and family to society. The marital union provides the best conditions for raising children: namely, the stable, loving relationship of a mother and father present only in marriage. The state recognizes marriage because the relationship between a man and a woman makes a unique and essential contribution to the common good.
- Marriage in Minnesota is already limited to one man and one woman. Why is the amendment needed?
The amendment prevents judges and politicians from changing existing law. There is currently a lawsuit in Hennepin County seeking to have the state’s Defense of Marriage Act declared discriminatory, irrational, bigoted and unconstitutional, Adkins said. Multiple pieces of legislation have been introduced over the past few years to redefine marriage into a system of genderless domestic partnerships. Local politicians have promised to redefine marriage at the first opportunity. A constitutional amendment allows the people to have authority over Minnesota’s marriage law.
- Doesn’t the marriage amendment amount to discrimination against same-sex couples?
No. It is not discrimination to treat different things differently. Men and women provide unique gifts to each other and to their children. Government has a compelling interest in supporting a relationship that is unlike any other in its capacity to produce new life and that provides benefits to the persons who are part of that unique community as well as all of society.
- Doesn’t the church care about people with same-sex attraction?
Yes, it does. It rejects no one. The church teaches that all people are children of God. People with same-sex attraction are our co-workers, friends and neighbors who can and do contribute to society. They have basic human rights that must be respected. The marriage amendment does not take away anyone’s rights. In addition, any two people can continue to create private legal contracts for a broad range of benefits and legal privileges relating, for example, to sharing or distributing property and making medical decisions.
- What harm could possibly result from redefining marriage?
The consequences of redefining marriage would be felt on the social level on issues related to religious liberty, free speech rights, parental rights and economic liberties. The MCC’s Adkins said, “It would become discriminatory and illicit for the government to privilege male-female marriage above any other relationship.” For example, in Massachusetts, where marriage has been redefined to accommodate same-sex couples, children as young as second grade were taught about same-sex marriage in class and courts ruled that parents had no right to prior notice or to opt their children out of such instruction.