Is same-sex marriage just over the horizon in Minnesota? Many say yes. A suit to legalize it has been filed in Hennepin County, and a slew of bills on the subject were introduced in the last legislative session. All the Democratic candidates for governor -- along with Independent Tom Horner -- endorse gay marriage.

At the national level, a federal judge in Massachusetts recently ruled unconstitutional the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Any day now, a federal judge in California is expected to strike down Proposition 8, which was endorsed in 2008 by California voters and defined marriage as a male-female institution in the state's constitution.

Same-sex marriage supporters assure us that redefining marriage is no big deal. "How will my same-sex marriage hurt you?" they ask, expecting the answer to be "it doesn't."

Don't believe it.

Same-sex marriage would transform American law and social life. That's because it's grounded in a radical idea: that male-female marriage, an institution rooted in human biology and intended to create the best setting to beget and raise children, is just irrational bigotry.

The implications of this revolutionary notion are far-reaching, and many are unforeseeable. But one thing is certain: If adopted, it will put government on a collision course with religious institutions and believers, and it's a sure bet government will win.

Male-female marriage is a foundational tenet of all the major world religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. If gay marriage becomes government policy, people who believe that kids need both a mother and a father will be treated with the contempt formerly reserved for racial bigots.

If you think I'm exaggerating, listen to Mark Dayton, who may be Minnesota's next governor. In 2004, he told a crowd of gay-rights activists that people who support a constitutional amendment to protect male-female marriage are "the forces of bigotry and hatred" who "spew hatred and inhumanity," according to the Star Tribune.

Today, we're already seeing the implications of this view play out:

•If gay marriage becomes law, churches and religiously affiliated organizations may be denied tax exemption, on grounds that their beliefs are "contrary to public policy." The threat is "credible" and "palpable," according to Robin Wilson, a law professor at Washington and Lee University. In New Jersey, for example, a Methodist ministry had to fight government officials to defend its tax exemption for a facility after declining to allow two lesbian couples to use it for civil union ceremonies.

•Some faith-based charities may have to stop providing social services. Catholic Charities in Boston -- which specialized in adoptions involving hard-to-place kids -- had to give up adoption after gay marriage began in Massachusetts. Religiously affiliated hospitals, rehabilitation centers and homeless shelters that get government contracts or deal with Medicaid and Medicare may be similarly threatened.

•Public employees may be disciplined or dismissed if they refuse to approve of homosexual acts. Recently, for example, a professor who taught Catholic theology at the University of Illinois was fired after a student accused him of hate speech. The professor had written in an e-mail that Catholic theology teaches that "sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same," and had said he agrees with this view.

•In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Christian Legal Society at the University of California, Hastings, College of the Law could be denied status as a registered student group because it holds that the only rightful form of sex is between a man and woman within marriage -- a view that violates the school's nondiscrimination policy on sexual orientation. The ruling may sound the death-knell for orthodox Christian, Jewish and Muslim campus groups.

•Small-business owners could be liable under discrimination laws if they decline to provide goods or services in contexts that violate their beliefs -- providing wedding photography at a same-sex marriage, for example. Boards that license professionals, including psychologists and social workers, may require approval of same-sex marriage for licensure or admission to professional schools.

In California in 2008, we saw what's in store for traditional-marriage supporters who stand up for their beliefs. Same-sex marriage activists there vandalized property, targeted jobs and defaced houses of worship. Here in the Twin Cities, leaders of the recent Gay Pride celebration also refused to tolerate dissent. They went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to bar a lone Christian evangelist from handing out Bibles in the public park where their event took place.

In its early years, the gay-rights movement marched under the banner of tolerance. No more. Activists are demanding conformance with and approval of their agenda, and are punishing those who dare to disagree.

Katherine Kersten is a Twin Cities writer and speaker. Reach her at