Letters to the Editor: Waconia Patriot Aug. 23, 2012

Same-sex marriage would strengthen society

To the editor:

I am writing in response to a letter this newspaper printed last week. In that letter, the writer addressed the importance of the upcoming marriage amendment vote.

Just like the author of that letter, I too feel strongly about the proposed amendment, and I believe that our decision on how to vote should be based, as much as possible, on facts and sound reasoning. However, last week’s letter repeated a number of myths that have taken root around the issue of same-sex marriage. Dispelling these myths would help us all to have a clearer dialogue.

First, the writer stated “Marriage between one man and one woman is as it has always been, long before governments existed, in societies all over the world.”

This statement is simply untrue. The definition of marriage has evolved and changed over the millennia. In Old Testament times, men could have multiple wives and concubines. Until recently the primary purpose of marriage was to unite property between families, with the wife considered just one more piece of property. One can still find these types of marriages in certain societies around the world.

It has only been through societal evolution, including the expansion of human rights, that marriage has come to be defined as a union of a man and woman in love. From this standpoint, the expansion of marriage to same-sex couples is simply a further evolution of marriage made possible by a better understanding of biology and human rights.

A second myth expressed by last week’s writer was “Social science shows us that the optimal environment for raising children is in a home with both their mother and their father …”

This is another much-repeated claim that is simply false.

As a psychologist, I am familiar with the social science literature on same-sex marriage, and the peer-reviewed research shows unequivocally that children fare equally well whether raised by opposite-sex or same-sex parents.

Of course, the overarching myth expressed by opponents of marriage equality is that expanding marriage to include loving, committed same-sex couples will somehow damage society. This has not been borne out in the foreign nations and American states where same-sex marriage has been legalized.

In reality, there is a good argument to be made that expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples actually strengthens society. There are social, emotional, financial and psychological benefits of being married, all of which translate to more overall health and stability of the entire society. Extending the right to marry to same-sex couples will only strengthen our American society, and that is something we should all endorse by voting “no” this November.

Gary J. Freitas
Waconia

 

Marriage amendment is discriminatory

To the editor:

I am writing in regard to the letter in last weeks paper on the Marriage Amendment. This November, Minnesotans will face a proposed amendment that would limit the freedom to marry for same sex couples. At its very core, this is an issue about freedom and equality among all people in the state. I plan to vote NO on the Marriage Amendment because of the following reasons and urge the readers to do so also.

Firstly, the Constitution is a document that’s mission is to protect the rights of its citizens, and absolutely NOT intended to limit freedoms. By putting an amendment in the constitution, you are limiting the rights of loving same sex couples to ever get married and you are also limiting the ability of future generations to make up their own minds and protect the rights of its all citizens.

Many people’s views on the topic are constantly evolving and an amendment makes thoughtful discussion and change significantly more difficult. The Constitution should be a forward thinking document that allows views on issues to evolve and remain relevant in future societies. While its not on the same level as the battle for equal rights for woman or desegregation, this amendment has very real parallels that limit freedoms in very similar ways.

If the right to vote for women or freedom for slaves was voted on in their era, its very likely many states would have never allowed such protections. Just because a particular view may be popular now, that does not mean that is a just thing to do.

Secondly, providing the right to marry for all individuals is about equality. Unlike the views of the original writer, I have seen personally that limiting this right does have very real impacts on many people in our community. Currently, it is impossible for a loving same sex couple to have the same legal rights as any married couple. While property can be protected in similar ways, it is not equally protected. Same sex couples must go through a barrage of legal paperwork and expense to pass along property that legally married couples do not have to, while also incurring significant tax disadvantages of passing on property.

More significantly, same sex couples are not given the same rights in medical situation as married couples. I was in the hospital just recently and if had been comatose, my partner would not have had any legal standing to see me in the hospital or make medical decisions. While a medical directive helps, it does not provide the same rights and comes at an added cost and burden that married couples do not face.

Without a legal definition of marriage for a same sex couple, they are treated as a second class citizen and do not have the rights equal to a married couple.

Thirdly, I agree with the writer that this is very much about the value of families, but I believe it about ALL families. We need to focus on the fact that children learn their values from their parents. This is about love, commitment, and responsibility. Being in a loving relationship belongs to everyone. What are we telling our kids that their friends parents are second class citizens and cannot get married because they are of the same sex? Our kids learn from us about love and being accepting of everyone. All families should be valued equally. Love is love, not matter what the form.

The writer also states that the purpose of marriage is to protect children. Does that mean that opposite sex married couples that have no children either through choice or through biology should not be allowed to be married? Should their legal rights be limited also? Couples without children have no need for such legal protections, right? Marriage has always been about fostering stability and loving relationship in a community. Those exist with or without children in a relationship and same sex couple have just as much to contribute to society as any other couple. Their rights should be protected too.

Lastly, Marriage has become a necessary legal creation of government and that is not the same as the religious connotations of marriage. Providing the legal protection of marriage to all individuals in no way affects the religious abilities of people to practices as they wish or force any religious institutions to accept it. When one gets married in the eyes of God, they are not legally married in the eyes of government until a legal government marriage certificate is filed with the state. They are very much separate institutions, but that does not mean that the beliefs of some religions should be allowed to limit the legal right of all people to marry.

This amendment is too much government intrusion and a fundamental threat to freedom. In the end, this amendment is truly about limiting the freedom of individuals to marry who they choose in the name of protecting a traditional definition of marriage. Limiting freedoms in the name of protections is a form of discrimination and does not belong in a country whose founding principles are equality and justice for all. I urge everyone to vote No this fall.

Mark Sauter
Minneapolis

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