I have serious objections to the proposed Marriage Amendment to Minnesota's Constitution. But, it's not for the reasons you would likely expect.
Due to my personal views and my responsibilities as a journalist, I'm not going to share my views on the moral issues at the center of amendment debate. Instead, I want to raise generalized freedom and fairness issues that I think is universal to both sides.
I have no objection to a majority in our state or our country expressing their beliefs through laws as long as it does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The point of laws is to put forward our collective efforts to conduct society as we believe it should be conducted. I also believe that future majorities deserve an equal chance to express their own will as society's views on things evolve and change.
A constitutional amendment is designed to be so difficult to change or modify that it is somewhat permanent. This is an essential element if you want your constitution or rule of law to be truly meaningful to people. If the Marriage Amendment is approved this November, it will make the argument at the center of the amendment a fundamental law and make it as difficult to change as the other amendments.
Future generations will one day be community leaders and lawmakers. Why would it be considered acceptable say they have to work twice as hard as we did to express their beliefs and laws? Consider it this way: would you find it acceptable for the law to say your preferred presidential candidate has to win over 70 percent of the votes to be elected, but his opponent only has to win a simple majority?
I also oppose the amendment because I find it completely unnecessary for the pro-Marriage Amendment group to express their beliefs. They currently already have a state law defining marriage as between "one man and one woman." If the amendment supporters truly want keep that in state law, they need to be focused on truly convincing people of their argument. A continual majority of truly convinced people are a thousand times more secure and guaranteed than any amendment. If they succeed, the law will never change. If the majority of people decide the argument is strong enough, the law will change. I believe it's against everything this country stands for to not give both sides an equal chance to present their arguments.
As for the argument that the amendment will prevent activists judges from imposing their will, I'm deeply troubled by that argument's lack of faith in the U.S. Constitution. Doesn't that argument inherently express a lack of faith in the judicial process laid out by the Constitution and a lack of faith in the judicial system's ability to correct every bad decision or law over time? The judicial system has given horrible decisions in the past, like the Dred Scott Decision, and even the Constitution committed the crime of treating slaves as three-fifths of a person. But, every wrong act has eventually been corrected in a permanent manner. I have faith in our country's system, and I believe it is far stronger than any debate we have over our beliefs.
I strongly urging people to consider the points I have made when the vote on the amendment on Nov. 6. The moral question at the center of the amendment is a discussion we truly need to have as a nation and a state. But, I believe the only way we will reach a final, unified consensus on the matter is if each side gets a fair chance to express their beliefs.