Monday, September 17, 2012

The Marriage Amendment: Unjustifiable from a Secular, Rational Basis

By Phil Byrne

The Marriage Amendment is a major threat to a bedrock American constitutional principle – the separation of church and state. Our Founders did not permit any religion to have its own beliefs enforced by the coercive power of civil law.

Catholics do have a right under the First Amendment to express their views publicly on matters of public importance. They can speak to anyone who will listen, whether it is from a pulpit, using DVDs paid for by their wealthiest members, in letters to the editor, or in media ads paid for by $650 million from the investment income of the Archdiocese.

But religions, Catholic or otherwise, do not have the right to use the muscle of civil law to enforce their own religious beliefs. They cannot require “Caesar” to enforce their own version of “God’s” law.

We all agree that it is not permissible to seek the passage of a state constitutional amendment to: (i) require that no one eat meat on Friday; (ii) require that all females wear a headscarf in public; or (iii) require that no one eat pork.

We all agree that it is permissible to enact into civil law a prohibition against killing. So what is the difference? Why is one permissible and not the other?

The difference is this: There must be, for every civil law, an independent basis resting on secular facts, which justifies the existence of that law. Even if my motive in proposing or supporting a law is religious, I must advance a rational, secular basis for that law and justify its adoption on that basis. And, I must persuade people of many beliefs that the law makes sense. I cannot complain that others do not agree with my own religious beliefs or arguments. It is fairly easy to conclude that if civil society did not prevent people from killing each other, we would have no peace, no society at all. That is clearly a rational, secular basis for a law prohibiting killing, whether or not the Ten Commandments, the Koran, or another religious code, might also prohibit murder.

Today – in 2012 – the question is this: Is there any basis that would support adoption of the Marriage Amendment other than religious? If there is such a rationale, the case has not been made for it at this point.

For example, the local Catholic Archbishop submitted a letter to the Star Tribune, a secular newspaper (October 8, 2011). He said that he was not acting to enforce religious doctrine or principles in calling for the passage of the Marriage Amendment. However, he had previously written, in his own local religious newspaper, that the reasons supporting the Marriage Amendment were theological, biological/spiritual, and pastoral. Clearly, he was then, and still is, articulating religious arguments.

What is the secular evidence about the Marriage Amendment? The secular evidence today is that the greatest threat to marriage, and the well-being and security of children who are born of a marriage, is divorce. Yet there is no request by that Archbishop for a constitutional amendment to prevent divorce.

The secular evidence relating to GLBT marriages or partnerships is that their children do just as well, or even better than, those in broken, single-family, or other marriages. The determining quality is the love, commitment and parenting skills of their parents.

The Catholic Archbishop says that the reality he defends predates religions or governments. It is hard to know what his particular reality is, given the nature of human sexual and family relationships over the ages, ranging from polygamy, to concubinage, to polyandry, to making women the property of their husbands, and even to sexual slavery. Whatever his reality is, today he chooses not to make the secular case for his constitutional amendment to a secular state constitution.

The truth, and the secular case today, is that love and commitment by parents will help children the most. Not a constitutional amendment. Religions may speak to their own congregations, but the primacy of the individual conscience is the essence of the U.S. First Amendment. Because of the First Amendment, religions cannot impose their religious beliefs on others of differing beliefs, unless we all agree (by a majority) on a valid, secular and civil reason for that law. There is no such secular, civil reason for the Marriage Amendment.

Phil Byrne is a retired attorney, active in volunteering, particularly for those groups/activities that have a goal that would fit right in with Catholic Social Teachings, such as helping teach English to adult immigrant learners, and working on housing and the provision of furniture/household goods to those in need of it.

See also the previous PCV posts:
The Marriage Amendment
Addressing the Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage Offered by the Catholic Bishops of Washington State
Homosexual Relationships: Another Look
Archbishop Nienstedt's Marriage Amendment Message to Priests: "The Stakes Could Not Be Higher"
What is “Marriage Itself”?


  1. Mr. Byrne - thanks for the post. I agree that Catholics who oppose marriage equality are making a religious argument. Unfortunately, they believe it is a secular one, and they work very hard to convince voters that it is an argument based in natural law.

    If you or your readers are interested, I wrote two essays which respond to the natural law arguments against same-sex marriage: here and here.

    I also wrote an appeal to Catholics to stop trying to impose a Catholic definition of marriage onto everyone. That essay is

  2. A most enlightening article, quite impressive. I am a Catholic who vehemently opposes this amendment but, I also have a huge problem with the fact that I don't see any way how this amendment can be fairly voted on. My polling location and many others throughout the state, is at a non-secular location i.e. a Catholic Church and other Christian Churches. Given the outspokenness opposition of the archbishop and his influence on the 800,000 Catholics in this diocese, I am grossly concerned that there is a huge conflict of interest for this amendment in this election. I see no separation of church and state! What recourse do I have? Please advise. Am I the only one who sees a problem in the unfairness within the parameters I previously described? I would like to find a lawyer who would take this case pro bono to the Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

  3. If the law passes, and if it can be convincingly demonstrated that the Catholic Church had a significant influence on that outcome, the next step might be to...

    Push for a law banning Catholics from marrying other Catholics.

    While the case against gay marriage is vague and abstract, lacking evidence of how any specific individuals would be harmed by gay marriage, the case against Catholic marriage can be concrete.

    If the Catholic Church is central to the passage of a prohibition on gay marriage, then Catholics have engaged in a deliberate attempt to limit the rights of their law abiding neighbors in a way that does not apply equally to all citizens.

    Specific harm can be shown to specific law abiding individuals, any gay couple in Minnesota denied the same rights afforded any straight couple.

    Thus, it can argued that limiting Catholic unions and Catholic children would provide a beneficial social effect by limiting a population that's unclear about the concept of equal justice under the law, a foundation of our democratic society.

    The point needs to be driven home that if one group can be denied rights based on nothing but their membership in a law abiding group, then other groups can be denied equal rights on that same basis, and none of us are safe.

    Regrettably, how life often works is that many folks can't understand an issue, until it is happening to them.

    1. If you are replying to me, I have know idea what you're talking about! I think you may be missing my point completely which is:


      Am I not being clear enough???

  4. There is a law that there can't be any political signs/political people, etc. within so many yards of a polling place. You should voice your concerns to the MN Secretary of State. And, if there are any political signs etc. when you vote, there is a number for you to call to report the incident.

    1. While that is a valid point it is not my overwhelming concern right now. BTW I have a VOTE NO bumper sticker on my vehicle which I will park in the parking lot when I vote. Can they ban that? Not easily enforced imo.

  5. Dear Anonymous. I can see your problem of having to vote in a Catholic church. To tell the truth, I didn't know they used churches as polling places. Mine have always been in schools. Even if the polling place is the Archbishop's living room, I don't think anyone can tell you how to vote. Please go in there proudly and vote NO if that is what your conscience tells you to do. No one will ever know how you voted but you. I will be thinking of you on election day. We all need courage.

    1. Thank you Paula, I will be voting NO.

  6. Thanks to Phil Byrne for this elegantly reasoned post.

  7. Phil,

    As for the "religious basis" of the amendment, you do realize that the amendment would simply confirm WHAT IS ALREADY MN LAW, right? Boy, those darn religious right wingers have been at this for a long time!

    Sex makes babies. The state has an interest in the protection of these babies and in their formation as citizens. Common sense confirms -biological parents are 97.89765% of the time the best possible candidates to do this. Therefore, the state has an interest in strenghthening and promoting that which connects biological parents with their kids. Wahla - "secular" marriage laws, and the unbroken tradition of these United States to affirm the importance of this institution. Get this - it is currently still illegal to engage in adultery in MN??!?!?!?! Again - those radical right wingers are at it again! Darn those zealots! Or maybe, just maybe, such a law is actually a very good, sound law, rooted in right reason and the desire of the state to affirm the union of one man and one woman and the connection of these citizens with their kids.

    You’re right about divorce being a big problem. Huge, huge problem. But guess what? The Church is not real big into divorce (and neither, by and by, was Jesus so much). As far as I can tell, the Church was pretty strongly opposed to the passing of "No Fault" divorce laws.
    Alas, we papists are not always listened to....

    Show me any sociological study confirming that kids raised by same sex couples (most of whom, by the way, involve the rearing of the child of a previous marriage of one of the partners) and I will show you 5 that confirm the basic fact the state has recognized for centuries - a stable home with a biological mother and father is the best setting for the raising of children.

    The amendment is not about religion. It is about the basic buidling block of society, and the needs of kids.

    Not much of an activist or lawyer, but generally a good guy

  8. Dear Anonymous. I hope Phil responds. I'd say you sound like a good guy and also a reasonable one, if somewhat frustrated. Will you check out my reasoning in response to what you have said? No question that sex makes babies. Let's say that you are right that the best situation all around is for one man and one woman to have the babies, stay married, and bring the babies up to be loving human beings and good citizens. Can the state make that happen by law? As you say, it has been the law for a long time and it hasn't prevented the situation we now have. Isn't it better to look at the situation we've actually got, for example, the one you mention, gay and lesbian couples bringing up the children of one of them by a former marriage. Other examples are gay and lesbian couples bringing up children who have been put up for adoption. Doesn't the state have an interest in strengthening these families too? The actual situation also includes childless couples who are committed to care for each other. It seems to have served the state's interest to allow heterosexual childless couples the stabilizing status of civil marriage. Why not also same-sex childless couples? The civil marriage law of one man and one woman we have had, as you point out, for centuries has not produced the ideal society you envision. And now we have finally come around to recognize that a significant number of same-sex couples want the stabilizing benefits of civil marriage. Why aren't we very glad to accommodate them for the strength that will bring to our society? What am I not seeing?

  9. Paula, what you're not seeing is that this has little to do with reason. As example....

    Would advocates for this law agree to drop their support for the law, change their position, and support gay marriage instead, if it were agreed that gay couples could only adopt kids currently in the state's foster care system, that is, kids that nobody else wants?

    Or, we could make it simpler yet, would advocates of the law support gay marriage if gay couples couldn't raise any children at all?

    Personally, I'm convinced that if such a deal could be offered, the majority of advocates for this law would simply drop the "good for kids" argument, and find some other objection to talk about, something, anything.

    By conducting intellectual discussions about gay marriage we are helping advocates of the law strengthen the fantasy that they oppose gay marriage for logic and evidence based reasons, when the reality is...

    Some of us want gays to sit in the back of the bus because that gives them someone to look down on, be superior to, stand in judgment of, have control over.

    This game doesn't work with blacks any more, so it's on to a new victim group.

    The great irony is that not so long ago, just two generations past, a favorite victim group was, yep, Catholics.

    How soon we forget what it's like to have society's boot on our throat.

    PS: To clarify things, the post above from Phil was from me, not the author of the article. Sorry for any confusion.

  10. Tammy - I like your take on this. Anyone who disagrees with me is a bigot. Very helpful.....
    Most people of faith are not bigots, just like many in the anti-amendment crew do not think religion is inherently crazy or backwards. The Catholic Church, for example, teaches quite clearly that those who have same-sex attraction are made in the image and likeness of God and deserve respect, love and honor. Its right there in the Catechism. But the Church also believes that any and all sexual acts must be inherently open to new life, even when it is acknowledged that conception will not occur (aged lovers, infertile woman, etc). So it seems to me the Church is being pretty consistent here. You may not like this position, but it has nothing to do with an individual group. Homosexual acts are condemned, just like fornication outside of marriage. But homosexual persons must be loved. The Church is clear on this point. It is not often listened to, but its right there.

    Paula - It is certainly the case that the state cannot force a couple to remain married. But it can all the same enshrine laws that advocate this ideal situation, and grant it a privilidged status quite disctinct from any other relationship. By the way, I am all for the elimination of "no fault" divorce laws. I think this would be a wonderful thing.
    Law serves the purpose of moralizing its citizens, not simply preventing widespread violence. And a key feature of morality is its conection to the natural law, within which is found the great biological act of discrimination - two men cannot conceive a child naturally, and neither can two women. To disconnect the connection between marriage and children, that is, sex and babies, is to radically de-stabilize an already decaying society and to simply declare, in law, that sex is whatever we want it to be, as long as it is between two consenting adults. This would only make things worse than they already are.

    As for the "significant" number of same sex couples that want the stability of civil marriage, I am skeptical of the numbers.

    If I may ask, do you disagree with the statement that in the vast majority of the cases, it is best for children that they be raised by their biological parents?

    1. I will answer your last question by first stating that statistics in this country regarding divorce imply that 51% of our children are not being raised by their biological parents. So there is no vast majority to talk about. Secondly demographics play a huge part. I, too many cases in poorer communities, the best situation for children is grand parents. This leads me to my third point which is that the latest research is showing that biology is not the issue, it's the capacity to love that is the issue most important in raising healthy and well adjusted kids.

      Maybe it's time we did as Paula suggests, and stop talking about some intellectual ideal and look at the facts of what were currently have in our society. Those facts show the serial monogamy is the preferred marital situation, and that society has been forced to legislate males pay for the upkeep of their children. No more free sperm donations.

      Gay marriage is a smoke screen for the failure of monogamous marriage and heterosexual male responsibility. It would make far more sense to deal with those facts than waste millions generating more smoke.

  11. Anonymous: your question is a trap, but I will respond anyway: it is best for children to be raised in a loving home with adults committed to their well-being. Is that often the children's biological parents? Sure. The next question is this: are there other homes in which children can be just as successful? The only reasonable answer to this question is "absolutely." Barack Obama, President of the United States, is but one example. If you examined your family tree and thought about it, you could probably cite some some examples from your own extended family.

    You acknowledge above that your reasoning about same-sex attraction and sexual morality comes from the Catechism of the Church, not natural science. Your pseudo-secular argument that marriage is for procreation is not secular at all: it is a religious argument founded in the Catholic Church's teachings about coupling and reproduction. Which is fine! No one is saying that the Catholic Church must change its practice of marriage. Whether or not Minnesota's (anti-) Marriage Amendment passes, Catholics will continue to practice marriage in the same way.

  12. Anonymous,

    If Protestants, Jews and non-believers were to organize to pass laws denying Catholics the right to marry other Catholics, and if they were having success in a number of states, would bigotry be an suitable description then?

    Would you view such efforts as a sincere, well informed and logical attempt to improve the community, or as an unwarranted attack upon your rights as a human being and law abiding member of a democratic society?

    I propose there is no difference between denying gays the right to marry, and denying Catholics the right to marry.

    In each case we would be ignoring the principle of equal justice under the law, and legally penalizing an entire group simply for being a member of a law abiding group.

    In each case we would be claiming rights for ourselves that we are unwilling to extend to our neighbors.

    If we can pass such laws against gays, we can pass such laws against Catholics, or any other group.

    The law under discussion is something much more than an attack upon the gay community, it's an attack upon the larger society as well. It's an attack on all of us.

    Although I'd prefer not to harp on the word bigotry, we shouldn't attempt to hide that word in to the closet either, because in order for these conversations to be productive they need to both be respectful AND grounded in reality.

    Paula is the expert at being respectful, and for my part I'm attempting to specialize in expressing the reality.

    I live in the deep south, and what's happening in Minnesota right now reminds me a lot of 1963.

    In those days, there were lots of carefully articulated supposedly reasonable arguments explaining why blacks should remain second class citizens, and lots of otherwise good folks got suckered in to believing them.

    The good news is this struggle will have the same outcome as the last one, as we always come to our senses eventually, it just takes some of us awhile.

    PS: I feel no need to be anonymous, and it feels good!

  13. Sire - A trap? What exactly was going to be the "gotcha" moment? I'd love to know.

    The law has an interest in promoting that which is the ideal. The ideal, it seems to pretty clear to me, is for a child to be raised by his or her biological parents. It is not always possible, I know, and not even always the preference. But I couldn't disagree more that all a child needs is two caring adults. No - the complementarity of a man and woman provides the best context for child rearing. Gender actually matters. Our bodies matter. Men and women are different, and a child needs both.
    I agree - our president has faired pretty darn well. But that doesn't changed the fact that I am sure he endured very dark days longing for his father's presence in his life.

    As for the cannard that the amendment is based on religion, I'm still confused - sex makes babies. The state's interest in marriage is profoundly connected to this cold, hard fact. How is this based on religion at all? The amendment folks are NOT arguing that sodomy should be outlawed. Rather, they are arguing that these types of sexual relationships should not be defined as marriage. Marriage has to be about more than simply romance and commitment. THE STATE HAS NO INTEREST IN ROMANCE. It DOES have an interest in the raising of citizens and in the ideal family situation.

    Phil - this has nothing to do with discrimination. Perhaps it needs to be said one more time - the amendment simply CONFIRMS WHAT IS ALREADY STATE LAW. THE STATE DOES NOT CURRENTLY RECOGNIZE "SAME SEX MARRIAGE." There is no such thing as SAME SEX MARRIAGE. There is only "marriage." Currently, it is defined based on the "conjugal principle." Sex makes babies (have I said this enough?). Why would we want to change it, a key feature that has defined marriage for millenia, and now define marriage as any relationship between consenting adults? No one has yet explained to me yet why we should not, according to this definition, allow polygmy, or let two brothers marry, or a mother and an adult child? I'm not trying to be provocative here, truly. But if marriage is just about consenting adults, why should these relationships be banned? Maybe you think they shoudln't be. If feelings are all that matter, then why not?

    Discrimination is treating two of the same things differently. But the romantic relationship shared by two men or two women is NOT the same thing as that between a man and women, as the first type of relationships do not result naturally in babies while the second does. That's the facts.
    Again, the STATE HAS NO INTEREST IN LOVE LICENSES. But it does have an interest in promoting what is best for kids. A mom and a dad.

    Anny Nomous

    1. Your question is a trap because everyone knows - including you - that you would accept only one answer.

      The law promotes marriage as a union of two equals - that is the ideal. Of course, that wasn't always the case. For centuries, marriage enforced an unequal division of labor, wealth, and power between men and women. Traditional English and American law gave the husband sole control over all property that his wife brought to their marriage and any income she earned during it. Husbands had the legal right - and the duty - to impose their will by force.

      As recently as 1964, the American Medical Association described beating as a "more or less" satisfactory way for an "aggressive, efficient, masculine" wife to "be punished for her castrating activity" and for a husband to "re-establish his masculine identity."

      So, there's your traditional marriage, right there. In spite of your claims, there is no child welfare enshrined by marriage - it was about power and control of property.

      Now, marriage is about love - not romantic love, but a committed, self-sacrificing love. That is an institution that should be open to same-sex partners as well as opposite-sex partners.

  14. Anny Nomous,

    By completely ignoring the reasonable questions posed to you above, you're demonstrating my point that arguments for this law are not based in reason.

    By replying to you, I'm demonstrating that despite my proclamations, I'm ignoring the readily available evidence, and am still clinging to the wishful thinking illusion that reason will have any effect on those who support this law.

    So, both of us are struggling with our reason, we are brothers in that.

    I've already COMPLETELY REMOVED any concern about "what's best for kids" in my posts above, but you don't care at all, not a bit, and are simply repeating the same argument over again.

    That's not reason Anonymous, that's dogma chanting posing as reason.

    By replying to you, I'm ignoring my own advice, and helping you strengthen the illusion that your views on this matter are built of reason.

    The best I can suggest here is that we both try to have a sense of humor about the lack of reasoning predicament that we share, and wait patiently for the next generation to sweep all this silliness aside.

    With every day that passes, the old is fading away, and the new is emerging. Even if none of us convince each other of anything, by this time tomorrow morning we'll have taken another step forward in to a brighter, less hateful, more Christian future.

  15. "My illusion of rationality." How very kind of you! Thank you for humoring me with your valuable time and esoteric insights. I am deeply grateful for your wisdom.

    I had thought I had answered your question about the supposed similarilty between forbidding certain classes of men from marrying certain classes of women and the irrationaility of the state recognizing same-sex unions as identical to marriage. Discrimination is treating two of the same things differently. But sex between two males or two females is essentially different than sex between a man and women. The state has no interest in recognizing erotic love. It does have an interest in the conception and raising of kids.

    I am unclear what you mean by "COMPLETELY REMOVED" any question of the good of kids. By this do you mean that you don't think this is an important point in the discussion about why the state is involved in marriage, or do you believe you that your arguments have put to rest my own. I remain terribly unconvinced if you are claiming the latter.

    There is no such thing as "same sex" marriage. There is only marriage. Why in the world would we want to disconect the definition from the conception of children? Can't we secure the "rights" for same sex couples without undefining marriage for ALL OF SOCIETY? Or is this battle to defeat the amendment for the activists simply part of a wider effort to normalize sexual behavior many find desctructive and radiclaly unhealthy.
    Yes, it is. It's not about "rights" at all. Its about using the moralizing power of the state to force citizens to accept the claim that all sexual acts, regardless of their telos, are the same. But they aren't, and we should treat them differently in the law. You don't have to be a right winger, religious zealot, or Crunchy con to believe this. Reason alone will confirm this.

    1. I would hope most people do not marry so they can have sex. I would hope most people marry because they feel themselves to be deeply in love with another person, and want to commit to that person for life.

      If marriage is only a license for sex, then your argument is rational, but if marriage is about stable, committed, and loving relationships, then your argument loses most of it's validity.

      Healthy children are raised in stable, committed, and loving relationships. They are not raised well at all in a relationship which is centered in the sexual expression of the partners--no matter the orientation of the partners.

  16. Anonymous,

    If gay couples were allowed only to adopt and raise children in the state foster care system (children no one else wants) would you then change your position and support gay marriage?

    Or, would you still oppose gay marriage, thus leaving those kids in the state foster care system?

    That is, if we were to remove the issue of children from the question of gay marriage, would you then be willing to extend to your neighbors the same rights you claim for yourself?

    Repeated Question #2:

    If Protestants were to organize to legally ban Catholics from marrying other Catholics, would you consider such a proposal to be rational, or would you call it bigotry?

    Would you call such a proposal a good example of Christian values in action, or would you consider such a movement to be based in ignorance and hate?


    Gay marriage is already legal in some states. Please provide of us with evidence of a single straight couple, or a single child, who has been harmed by these new laws.

    A single child please. Not a vague abstraction like "society" but a single child with a face and a name.

    If you can not, then I ask you to accept that your proposal is not based on evidence, ie. not a function of reason.

  17. Colleen, glad to see you here, I'm enjoying your blog!

  18. Colleen,
    Again, the state has no interest whatsoever in recognizing simple "committed relatioinships." In all seriousness, according to this definition, why in the world would the state want to prohibit a father from marrying his daughter, as long as the two are consenting? Truly, why not? If all that matters is consent and a general sense of affection, than why not?

    Why in the world should I want the state affirming my love life? I simply don't. I don't need it to do so. I do, however, want the state to encourage fathers to stick around and help raise their children.

    Be careful when you affirm that connecting sex to marriage might make for a rational argument -M. Bayly might accuse you of being a "biologist." Or wait, maybe I mean he might accuse you of being committed to "bio-logism." Or is it speciesism? I can't remember anymore.


    If the state tells me that a Catholic male can't marry a Jewish girl, than yes, that's bigotry. If the state tells the Catholic dude he can't marry his convert protestant brother, this is not discrimination. TREATING TWO KINDS OF SEXUAl RELATIONSHIPS DIFFERENTLY IS NOT DISRIMINATION.

    As for "one single case" of a child messed up because he did not have both a father and a mother in his life? Brother, I live in the inner city. KIDS NEED BOTH A MOM AND A DAD.
    Gay couples can raise succesful and balanced citizens, I admit it. But all things being equal, it is better, objectively better, for a child to be raised by both a mom and a dad. Any one who thinks differently, is being, well... irrational.
    And the state has an interest in recognizing and encouraging the rational and the ideal.

  19. Anonymous: thank you for admitting that same-sex couples can be excellent parents. But just because you want the state's recognition of marriage to be about children does not mean that it is. It never has been. This is a Catholic conception of marriage. Historically, the state's interest in marriage has been one of property rights. The state is unconcerned with a couple's fecundity. Period. So your whole rationale for denying same-sex couples marital rights is shaky at best.

    I got married because I fell in love with an amazing woman. She and I became friends, and we slowly realized that we loved each other and wanted to be together. We wanted to celebrate our love and friendship publicly, and obtain the support and recognition from our community that marriage affords. There are many same-sex couples out there who want and deserve to exercise the right to marry.

    Tell us about your marriage. Why did you get married? Why is it important to you?

    Anonymous, when you sort into kinds for the purposes of equal protection of the law, there has to be a distinction that relates to the law in question. You have sorted on the basis of ability to conceive children together. Are the gay couple and the straight couple similarly situated with relation to civil marriage law? Is there a necessity in civil marriage to conceive children together? If not, it is hard to see how the two are not similarly situated. It is understood, however, that marriage involves sexual union. That eliminates the father-daughter couple that you ask about.

    "And the state has an interest in recognizing and encouraging the rational and the ideal." That philosophy provides protection of the law for very few individuals and leaves a lot of us out there scrabbling for ourselves. Is that the kind of society you want?

    1. My wife and I never had children, by choice. Some people are physically unable to have children. Should the law consider us the same as it does gay couples?

      I didn't have kids because I didn't feel I'd make a good enough father. Some people have kids, but they aren't very good parents.

      Should the law prohibit some straight people from getting married because they might not make ideal parents?

      If the goal is protecting children, if the goal is for the state to promote the ideal family, wouldn't it be necessary to add such a provision to the law being proposed?

      Why are we singling out gay couples who hypothetically might not be good parents, when we have so many straight couples who have already clearly demonstrated that they are not good parents right now?

      There are more bad straight parents than there are gay people in total. What about these parents???

      Readers will observe how this entirely reasonable question will be completely ignored by those pushing the ban on gay marriage.

      What is being proposed is not a personal opinion, but a law binding on all the people of Minnesota.

      Because it is a law, a law which limits the rights of only one group of law abiding citizens, proponents of the law bear the burden of proving that harm would be done to specific individuals by allowing gay marriage.

      Where is this proof?

      Where are the specific individuals that can demonstrate in court that they personally have been harmed by the gay marriages now existing in other states?

      The absence of any such evidence, the absence of even an interest in providing such evidence, reveals that this law has nothing whatsoever to do with reason.

      These discussions also reveal the dangers inherent in blind obedience to any authority.

      In this case, Catholics who support this law are following a leadership which has most likely never been married, never raised kids, and never experienced sex.

      In what other enterprise would it be considered logical to label those with the least experience with a subject as the experts on that topic?