As you vote on the marriage amendment, think of this logical extreme.
I have a confession to make. I committed adultery today. I did it yesterday, and I'll do it again tomorrow -- with my wife. I married her last year -- second time around for me -- and according to my Sunday school teacher Miss Murple, my wife and I are adulterers.
Back in the day, Miss Murple waged war against the hippie-dippy free love movement of the late 1960s. She taught us teenagers that sex outside of marriage was a sin, no ifs, ands or buts. I remember a shy girl with braces named Arlene who brought up the subject of remarriage. What was a Christian girl to do, she asked cautiously, if she married the wrong guy?
Miss Murple didn't know that Arlene's mother had fled from an abusive husband and, after divorcing him, married Arlene's stepfather, a wonderful man. Without missing a beat, Miss Murple told Arlene that she had only one shot at marriage. The scriptures were clear -- marry again, and you and your new spouse are committing adultery. Arlene hid her face as Miss Murple stormed on.
I wish Miss Murple hadn't been so harsh about the whole remarriage business. She certainly wouldn't support what my lovely wife, Cynthia, and I have gone and done. As sins go, adultery is so bad it made Moses' top 10 list.
Even so, Cynthia and I are pretty unapologetic about the whole thing. What's to apologize for? All our friends, family and, yes, even our minister celebrated our nuptials with us on a perfect December evening. No one questioned our decision or right to marry again. It seems the only holdout would be Miss Murple, because she sincerely believed that marriage was a one-time commitment; one man, one woman, one time. Period.
So I'm a bit confused about the argument in support of this constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Advocates pronounce homosexuality a sin. They claim they don't want marriage redefined. They promote what they believe to be traditional marriage -- one man and one woman. But Miss Murple would tell them they got it only two-thirds right. They left out the one-time thing.
The language on the ballot states: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?"
How many would vote "yes" if the words "one time" were added?
I can't begin to tell you of the happiness Cynthia brings to my life. We laugh and proclaim proudly to everyone that we are "re-newlyweds." How heartbreaking for us if the state forbade us from marrying again; if the Miss Murples of Minnesota could inflict their definition of traditional marriage on us and cram it into our state Constitution?
Of course, Cynthia and I need not worry. Those two words -- "one time" -- will not appear on the ballot this November. In Minnesota, most of us have the freedom to marry and marry again.
Even so, dear voter, if you happen to be remarried or hope to marry again someday, consider this:
Before you vote, visualize those two words appearing in the language of the amendment. Think about how you would feel if your hope for intimacy, affection and a lifetime commitment was put to a vote. Imagine how miserable and barren your days and nights would be if your government denied you a second chance to pursue a life of happiness with your new spouse.
Okay, now vote.
Mark W. Benjamin is an attorney in Cambridge, Minn.
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