As Josh already noted, defenders of marriage scored a big victory in Minnesota this weekend, when their State House voted to pass a bill already passed by their State Senate to allow Minnesotans to vote on the definition of marriage in 2012.
Minnesota now joins Indiana, Maryland, Rhode Island and North Carolina which have seen progress made towards protecting marriage this year (pray that New York is next!).
The National Organization for Marriage has pledged their full support to ensuring traditional marriage wins the day next year and the Minnesota Catholic Conference released a statement welcoming the outcome.
In both the House and the Senate, a handful of brave Democrats (actually, the Democrat party in MN is the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, or “DFL”) joined Republicans to create a bipartisan majority of elected MN officials who favored allowing the people to decide the marriage question.
It takes a great deal of courage to buck your party and vote for marriage if you are an elected Democrat. The litany of abusive language leveled at any legislator or person who dared to allow the people to vote on marriage is briefly cataloged here (to summarize: they were described as pro-bullying, Nazi-inspired, slavery-sympathetic, pro-stoning, anti-woman, and of course anti-gay bigots, on the Minnesota House floor, to their faces!).
In the House, two DFL’s ended up voting for the marriage amendment bill, and in the Senate, one DFL stood with the Republicans – we should contact them and thank them for putting principle over party:
Rep. Lyle Koenen
Rep. Denise Dittrich
Sen. Leroy Stumpf
Plus there’s nothing to stop you from thanking every legislator who voted for the bill. The complete list of pro-marriage House officials here and the list of pro-marriage Senate officials here (every “R” and Sen. Stumf, DFL). You can bet they are getting plenty of hate mail – please help show them that the quiet majority appreciates what they did.
Be advised – four Republicans in the House did vote against the bill (Kriesel, Murray, Smith, and Kelly). Kriesel’s staff had previously sent this threatening note to a local Catholic priest over the marriage debate.
The number of good Catholics (and other people of faith) who worked to help pass the marriage amendment is too long to list, but special props go to Teresa Collett and Stephen Heaney for their op-ed in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press, and to a very dedicated young papist in Minnesota who helped keep me stay up to speed with what was happening on the ground day by day (or more often, hour by hour).
Finally, special ignominy goes to Rep. Joe Mullery (DFL) for introducing this anti-Catholic bill in the heat of the marriage amendment debate:
As part of “Catholic governance” [the bill reads] a parish “shall be governed by the congregation. Every member of the parish shall be entitled to vote at meetings.”
The bill violates the separation of church and state required by the U.S. Constitution, said religious scholars and critics of the legislation.
Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which lobbies on behalf of the state’s bishops, said the bill “represents a gross intrusion of the state into the affairs and governance of a church. The bishop is responsible for the governance of his particular diocese. It violates that very core principle of Catholic doctrine and Catholic life and practice.”
So, to recap, brave Catholics and other people of faith worked in Minnesota to propose a simple proposition: that for something as fundamental as the definition of marriage, the people (not the courts) should decide what marriage is.
For doing so, these folks had criticism and abuse hurled at them – and some elected officials, in reprisal, went so far as to threaten the Church’s tax status and to attempt to take away its right to self govern.
But in the end, once again, the victory went to the committed and courageous faithful. Praise God.