On most days, the Star Tribune receives letters to the editor addressing a variety of topics. On some days, a news event or article or issue strikes a nerve, and letter writers zero in on that topic.
Today is such a day: An overwhelming majority of the letters we received over the weekend were about same-sex marriage, responding to both opinion articles and news articles published recently. What follows is a collection of letters reflects that focus.
DAVID BANKS, ASSISTANT COMMENTARY EDITOR
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An honorable culture, but by what means?
The Jan. 14 opinion pages were full of discussion about the upcoming marriage amendment vote. Viewpoints from both sides were honestly and openly discussed, employing our great privilege of opinion.
David Banks (Short Takes) clarified a very important question: What is it we are accomplishing with this amendment?
We are simply choosing whether or not to make it more difficult to legislate matters of marriage. Shouldn't we continue to trust the legislative process in this state?
Marilyn Carlson Nelson ("Will Minnesota 'right the culture'? ...") reminds us of our recent history of stumbling through similar conversations. The hardships many have faced in the past because of bias are sorrowful. Should we allow such conditions to continue for our children?
Dan Nye took the time to ask "Six questions for supporters of same-sex marriage to answer -- forthrightly." But I choose not to answer his questions.
I don't find them hateful or ignorant; I just think they're from a place that many of us don't live anymore.
I can speak for my great-grandparents and grandparents, who left places of bias and limited thinking. They came to a country where openness and caring for others dominated. They worked hard and helped change understandings of community and family.
My hope is that I can open the opinion section in weeks to come and read about the real issues we need to work on: employing, feeding, and housing one another.
Let's work ahead to keep Minnesota and the United States a place where we will continue to wave the ships in -- and to be thankful that there are many ways to live a healthy, hopeful and honest life.
TIM DANZ, ST. PAUL
Editor's note: Many writers responded to Dan Nye's six-question challenge. We are sorting through those responses and will find a way to represent them in the coming days.
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Banks, in his Short Take, says that "the operative question is still whether a law put in place by democratic processes is so at threat of repeal by further democratic processes that it must be carved in stone by the biggest, baddest democratic process of them all."
That sounds quite reasonable, at first. And I would agree that we should be very circumspect about modifying our Constitution. However, the reason that the constitutional amendment is proposed is not fear of democratic processes. It is fear of judicial overreach.
Laws restricting marriage to a union between one man and one woman are currently being fought in courts at both the state and federal levels. Gay marriage is allowed in six U.S. states.
In some of those states, including Iowa, it was the state Supreme Court that made the decision to overturn existing laws and allow gay marriage.
JAMES BRANDT, NEW BRIGHTON
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In Minnesota alone, there are 515 laws on the books that discriminate against human beings in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender cultures. The right to marry is just one of them.
The basic human and civil right to fair and equal treatment, the pursuit of happiness and the ability to be free is our founding stone. These are legal issues that should be decided in the law court, not in the court of public opinion.
Most people vote on emotion, not on legal facts. If we allowed emotion to control our legal system and country, we would still have slavery; women and people with disabilities would be second-class citizens.
Fair-and-equal doctrine that has been implemented throughout our history would be ignored. We would still have separate education systems and bathrooms. Only white males would be allowed to be free.
We must vote "no" on the marriage amendment as well as dismantle the discriminatory laws at all levels that prevent members of the GLBT culture and other human beings from being truly free.
KENNETH BROWN, MINNEAPOLIS
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Debating the role of Catholic leaders
In my childhood, my father sought political office and ran vigorous campaigns that involved brochures, yard signs and campaign buttons. We wore them happily during the week, but on Sundays we removed them from our coats before attending mass.
My dad taught us that mass was one place politics did not belong.
I feel deep sorrow that my archbishop, John Nienstedt, has issued a prayer intended for use during mass that urges us to proclaim and promote a political position that many cannot in conscience share.
Further, it is reported ("Priests told not to voice dissent," Jan. 15) that priests known not to agree with and participate in activities to promote passage of the marriage amendment in their parishes may face censure and suspension.
I suggest to my archbishop that we replace this divisive prayer with one that begs forgiveness for our communal sin of clerical sexual abuse and seeks comfort for all victims of that abuse.
Surely this is a prayer Catholics can pray with singleness of heart.
SUSAN M. PAVLAK, WEST ST. PAUL
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We have been married Catholics for 45 years, but the desire of gays and lesbians to marry does not threaten us.
What threatens us is the archbishop's alliance with a political movement bent on amending the state Constitution to restrict the right of other Minnesotans to seek the same legal recognition we have.
We are also outraged at the archbishop's dictator-like orders to silence dissent among priests and force parishes to organize committees to promote a divisive political agenda.
There is little enthusiasm for turning parishes into precinct caucuses -- and even less enthusiasm for turning Roman Catholics into Roman soldiers.
We have looked at the merits of the proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage, and we plan to vote "no."
We also continue to vote "no" on Archbishop Nienstedt's priorities as a spiritual leader.
MARY BADER AND JOEL PAPA, WAYZATA
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A Jan. 13 letter writer says that "religious groups" should keep their influence out of "government issues" such as "reproductive rights and "same-sex marriage."
Based on this, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. should have kept his nose out of the "government issue" of civil-rights legislation.
On the other hand, Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, referred to "birth control" as her "religion."
To be consistent, the author no doubt wants Planned Parenthood to cease trying to influence legislation regarding "reproductive rights."
More egregiously, why should we who don't share the religion of "birth control" be forced to fund their preaching on "sex education" or to pay for the distribution of contraceptives, or the practice of human sacrifice in their temples of death?
People of religion or no religion have a right to try to influence legislation.
But as King made clear in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," "A just law is a man made code that squares with ... the law of God."
MICHAEL BIRD, ST. ANTHONY