Spiritual director's view: Marriage amendment would put discrimination into constitutionIn Minnesota today, two people can meet, fall in love, vow to spend their lives together, raise a family and contribute to society; but if they are of the same gender they cannot be legally married.
By: David E. Ackerson, for the News Tribune
In Minnesota today, two people can meet, fall in love, vow to spend their lives together, raise a family and contribute to society; but if they are of the same gender they cannot be legally married. The proposed marriage amendment would inbreed this invidious discrimination into our state Constitution on mostly religious grounds.
During my time as a judge, I have been privileged to perform about 1,500 civil-marriage ceremonies across the Iron Range. Every one of them has been between two human beings who loved each other and wanted to spend their lives together. I look forward to one day having the privilege of performing same-gender civil marriages: every one of them between two human beings who love each other and want to spend their lives together. There is no difference.
America is founded on religious freedom. The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all (people) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The very first amendment to our U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Yet this proposed marriage amendment seems to be seeking to establish one religious viewpoint and to prohibit the free exercise of views held by others. The Constitution protects the religious freedom of those with both viewpoints.
If you’ve never been poor, mistreated or marginalized in some way, you may not look at scriptures the same way as those who have. Nobody can force any church to perform same-gender marriages; neither should government prevent those who wish to do so.
In my own Lutheran church, many of us have been greatly blessed from being inclusive and welcoming to all, especially in relation to the many gifted, compassionate, partnered GLBT persons with whom we’ve been privileged to journey. Some of us believe the Creator continues to speak in all creation, and that no person can claim to fully know the mind of the Creator or presume to judge any part of creation as somehow unworthy. Evil can be spawned in the name of religion as well as any other way.
We should not allow religious beliefs to lead to the creation of laws restricting the freedom to have a legal civil marriage. People with power can make law, but unless law flows from justice, and unless justice flows from mercy and compassion, the law cannot be justified.
Public opinion on this issue is rapidly changing. As more of us personally have positive, enriching experiences with GLBT persons among our families, friends and associates, opposition to same-gender marriage will continue to disappear, and the freedom to marry will be legally afforded to all. It should not take another generation for this to happen.
Business and professional people are realizing that support for same-gender marriage is the right thing to do. At this time in our history we need diverse people working together for the welfare of all. None should be denied the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, including the freedom to love and marry whomever we choose. In America, and especially in Minnesota, we always have maintained that what unites us is stronger than what seems to divide us.
The proposed Minnesota marriage amendment should be defeated. Vote “no.”
David E. Ackerson has been a judge in Hibbing for more than 30 years and is a certified spiritual director and a member of Messiah Lutheran Church of Mountain Iron.