Archbishop John Neinstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis penned a column late last week ("Let's protect the meaning of marriage," April 28) urging Minnesotans to support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships. What Neinstedt did not address in his column speaks volumes about what he really means: Gays and lesbians are sinners and Minnesota's founding document should be enshrined with one religious sect's beliefs at the expense of all Minnesotans.
The Archbishop seems to be engaging in a full court press on the issue of gay marriage; it is an election year and gay marriage is a great wedge issue to get out the vote among conservative Christians whose turnout at the polls Republicans need. The Archdiocese invited anti-same-sex marriage leaders from California last month to kick off the push for banning gay marriage in Minnesota. His column is another step in a concerted campaign by the Catholic Church in Minnesota.
What Neinstedt fails to mention is that gay marriage is already banned in Minnesota. We have a Defense of Marriage Act on the books. We also have a Minnesota Supreme Court decision from the early-1970s that ruled that the state court ban same-sex marriage. That's not to say same-sex marriage shouldn't be legal; I think it should. But it faces an uphill battle in order to become a reality in Minnesota.
What is excluded from Neinstedt's argument speaks volumes. Nowhere has Neinstedt pushed for a constitutional ban on no-fault divorce or infidelity, the top reasons why divorce is so common. He's also not looking to make out-of-wedlock pregnancies illegal. I haven't seen the Catholic Church push for a constitutional amendment ensuring financial stability for families; money problems top the list of reasons why couples get divorced.
There's no mention of a constitutional amendment to make marriage counseling mandatory before the start of divorce proceedings.
I haven't seen the Catholic Church advocate a constitutional amendment mandating the teaching of comprehensive sex education in public schools, a policy that could arm teens with the information they need to avoid pregnancy until they are married and ready to start a family. In fact, the Archdiocese adamantly opposes birth control in any form with the exception of the rhythm method, a fairly ineffective means of birth control.
All of these things would create more stability in marriages and ensure children have "a mother and a father."
I'm left wondering why the focus on same-sex marriage.
Neinstedt writes, "Do we really want first-graders to be taught that gay marriage is OK?"
Ah, yes. There it is. If we don't change the most important, historic and guiding document in the state of Minnesota, your kids will forced to learn about homosexuality. This is an inkling about the Catholic Church's true motivation for an amendment push: It's theology says that gays and lesbians are sinners and the Catholic Church wants its theology enshrined in Minnesota's founding document.
A look at Neinstedt's past statements provides some insight.
In a May 16, 2004 speech he said, "We are not dealing with a civil rights issue, but rather one of behavior which, if controlled, can be reformed."
He continued, "Nowhere in the Bible are homosexual acts approved. While, reductionists try to excuse these Scriptural prohibitions as irrelevant in light of contemporary culture, it is simply unfeasible to justify the licitness of homosexual acts in light of the overwhelming Scriptural evidence."
And in a 2007 document, Neinstedt wrote, "Persons with a homosexual inclination are called by God to live chaste lives.
He continued, "Today’s 'gay agenda' advocates, including many persons in the media, want you to believe that homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality with only a slight variation. They have cleverly sought refuge under the umbrella of 'civil rights.' Neither assertion is true and both must be challenged."
The push to ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota is not a move to strengthen marriage as Nienstedt claims. It's a push to enshrine one religious sect's beliefs into the state's founding document and impose those beliefs on the entire population of Minnesota.