The following excerpts are from articles ranked by their popularity on the Star Tribune Opinion Web page:


1. "Let's protect marriage -- and speech," a commentary by Matt Birk, a former center for the Minnesota Vikings and current center for the Baltimore Ravens:

The union of a man and a woman is privileged and recognized by society as "marriage" for a reason, and it's not because the government has a vested interest in celebrating the love between two people. With good reason, government recognizes marriages and gives them certain legal benefits so they can provide a stable, nurturing environment for the next generation of citizens: our kids. Read more.


2. "Why same-sex marriage affects my marriage," a commentary by Riley Balling, an attorney from Prior Lake:

In the marriage debate, people frequently argue that how one chooses to define marriage doesn't affect other people's definitions of marriage, and because my definition is as good as yours, it should also be promoted by society. However, same-sex marriage affects all of our marriages. Although not all are able to participate in a traditional marriage that yields children, we all benefit by its establishment in creating strong homes for the next generation. Read more.


3. "Not in my city," a commentary by Don Samuels, a member of the Minneapolis City Council:

It was light dusk as I left home to fetch my daughter from the movies in south Minneapolis. As I approached Broadway south, from Irving, I saw a guy, about 6 feet 2, peeing against a building. A second guy, about 5 feet 8, was waiting nearby. I slowed next to them, lowered my passenger window and said: "Guys, peeing in public is illegal. You really shouldn't be doing that." Read more.


4. "The bachelor farmer and the marriage vote," a commentary by Sarah Janecek, Minneapolis:

This Republican will be voting "no" on the Minnesota marriage amendment. My late uncle bachelor farmer had a bachelor farmer pal, whom I'll call Bob. My uncle and Bob were the best of friends for more than 50 years. When they got too old to travel and live alone on their farms, they acquired adjacent rooms at the nursing home in town. They died within months of each other at that home. My late bachelor farmer uncle and his friend Bob were a beautiful gay love story. Read more.


5. "An open letter to the archbishop," a commentary by Herbert W. Chilstrom, former presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Dear John: Like you, I have a deep sense of call to the ministry of the Gospel. On the marriage amendment, you are described in the media as having "drawn the line." In my judgment, you have drawn the line at the wrong place. I recognize your authority in formulating positions for your own flock in Minnesota. But for you and others to campaign for an amendment that imposes your stance on all citizens in Minnesota, including other Christians, believers of other faith groups and nonbelievers, is overstepping your bounds. Read more.


6. "Michele Bachmann -- a dangerous fundamentalist?" -- a commentary by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni:

What I find most fascinating about Michele Bachmann -- and there are many, many more where she came from -- is that she presents herself as a godly woman, humbly devoted to her Christian faith. I'd like to meet that god, and I'd like to understand that Christianity. Read more.


7. "Appalled by Rick Santorum," a commentary by Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College in St. Paul:

Under what circumstances and to what extent should a college or university president speak directly to political issues and even speak publicly on particular political candidacies? With all due respect to my responsibilities as a fundraiser and as a guardian of open discourse on my campus, I am prepared to make the case that stating publicly that I am appalled by the views of Rick Santorum is not only my right but my responsibility. Read more.


8. "Beware of radical Islam," a commentary by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.:

I am immensely aware how vitally important it is to restore confidence in our economy and create quality jobs for Minnesotans. It is also clear that life is becoming increasingly unaffordable for average Americans. And while I am working tirelessly every day to promote progrowth policies, I cannot ignore the national-security threats facing our nation. In a recent interview, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said "the West is asleep on the issue of Islamist extremism." Sadly, he's right. Read more.


9. "The marriage amendment, from all angles," a commentary by Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman of Carlson, the Minnetonka-based travel and hospitality company:

We Minnesotans are blessed to live in a state that others envy, study and model. This year, we have another blessing -- of an unusual sort. We have the opportunity to decide as a community if we will amend our state Constitution to include a ban on the right of same-sex couples to marry. My prediction and my hope is that we will resist. Our history suggests we will. We are especially adept at asking ourselves: "Is this who we want to be?" "Are we living our values?" And if we don't like the answer, we have many times "righted the culture" to better reflect those values. Read more.


10. "Vote 'no' on marriage amendment," a Star Tribune editorial:

On Nov. 6 voters will be asked to add a ban on marriage between gays and lesbians to the state Constitution. At its core, the debate is about fairness and freedom -- and about what does or does not belong in our Constitution. With those key principles in mind, Minnesota should be the first state in the nation to decline such a proposal. Denying something as basic as marriage to two committed adults has no place in a state's most important legal document. In our hearts and souls, we Minnesotans are basically fair people who believe in human rights. That fundamental sense of humanity should lead to a "no" vote on the marriage amendment. Read more.


11. "A red state-blue state divorce plan," a commentary by author Paul VanDevelder:

We in the blue states hear from the talking heads on Fox News and MSNBC that many of you in the red states are so distressed about the outcome of the elections that you would like to secede from the Union. We're happy to report that most people here in Oregon, Washington and California think you're really on to something. This marriage has run its course. Too many niggling little things built up over time, driving us all crazy. So let's just stop. It's time to divvy up the china and draft a property settlement. Read more.


12. "Give us time to eat at school," a commentary by Seward Montessori School sixth-graders Talia Bradley and Antonia Ritter:

In the Minneapolis public schools, we are supposed to have 15 minutes to eat, which would be bad enough. But realistically we get only 10 to 11 minutes (we have been timing it). Having to rush to eat is part of the reason for the obesity epidemic, eating disorders, indigestion and kids not doing well in school. There is research that proves all of these points. Kids just need more time to eat at school. Read more.