Given the Star Tribune's longstanding editorial position supporting same-sex marriage, it's not surprising that the paper also opposes allowing the people of Minnesota to vote on the marriage amendment.

However, its editorial was disappointing ("Don't put bigotry up for a vote," May 6), largely a regurgitation of tired talking points from activists who favor homosexual marriage.

The issue before the Minnesota Legislature is not whether same-sex marriage should be allowed in Minnesota. It is whether the people of Minnesota should have the right to vote on the issue, just as voters in 31 other states have already done.

The paper is out on a ledge with its "no vote of the people" position. Seventy-four percent of Minnesotans believe voters, not the courts or the Legislature, should decide this issue.

Even some homosexual-marriage activists apparently believe that voters should be able to decide, since same-sex marriage groups in both California and Oregon are both actively exploring taking their position to the voters.

The editorial rails against enshrining "bigotry" in the state Constitution. Interestingly, the paper appears to concede that the amendment will pass, as this is the only way it could be "enshrined" in the Constitution. On that point we can agree.

But there's nothing bigoted about preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is a unique institution that brings men and women together. Only the sexual union of men and women can produce children.

Whatever one thinks about homosexual relationships, none of them can produce children. It is in the state's interest to channel the unique sexual energy of men and women into marriage so that any children produced by those sexual relationships have the best opportunity to be raised by a married mother and father.

African-Americans might have some ideas about bigotry. Seventy percent of African-Americans supported traditional marriage in California, according to exit surveys. So did 56 percent of Latinos.

Prominent civil-rights leaders like Walter Fauntroy and Alveda King do as well.

In fact, Bishop Bob Battle, a veteran of the civil-rights movement, recently testified at a hearing on the Minnesota marriage amendment bill that "gay marriage advocates have attempted to hijack the civil-rights movement and make same-sex marriage into a civil right. I know what civil rights are, and this is not one of them."

The editorial blithely claims that homosexual marriage will have no impact on anyone in Minnesota outside of the same-sex couples involved. Yet legal experts on both sides of the divide agree that the issue has profound impacts on society.

Legal scholars from some of the nation's most respected law schools agree that same-sex marriage affects a host of issues, ranging from religious liberty to individual expression of faith, from the education of schoolchildren and to the workplace.

The paper claims that homosexual marriage is inevitable, yet the facts show the opposite. No state has enacted same-sex marriage since 2009, and many have expressly rejected it (including deep-blue states like Maryland, Rhode Island, Maine, New Jersey and New York).

Last year Iowa voters removed three of their Supreme Court justices who imposed homosexual marriage in that state.

There will be plenty of time before a public vote to debate the many consequences of same-sex marriage and the benefits to society of preserving marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

But let's take one of the editorial's more outlandish arguments off the table -- that homosexual marriage is somehow a civil right. No higher court in this country has ever found a civil right to same-sex marriage, and the United States Supreme Court has expressly rejected the claim under the U.S. Constitution (in a case arising out of Minnesota).

To the extent that civil rights are at all involved in the marriage debate, it is because the right to vote is our most important civil right, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once famously observed.

It's time to have a vigorous debate about same-sex marriage. It's time to let the people vote.

Jeff Davis is president of Minnesota Majority.