Letters to the editor for Sept. 14, 2012

Amendment denies rights

To the Editor:

I am responding to Bryan Lindquist’s Aug. 24 letter to the editors, “Divinely defined.” Although I am a humanist, I do not wish to argue against Mr. Lindquist’s or anyone else’s faith. What I do take exception to are attempts to amend the constitution to deny rights to certain individuals, and/or impose one’s religious beliefs on others.

Article 1, Section 16 of the Minnesota Constitution states: “The enumeration of rights in this constitution shall not deny or impair others retained by and inherent in the people…” Our Minnesota and federal constitutions are meant to protect the rights of people from being constrained, denied or revoked by the government The proposed marriage amendment is antithetical to this spirit and the purpose of our constitution.

Section 16 also states: “The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed nor shall any control of or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted…” This of course echoes the First Amendment’s opening clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The proposed marriage amendment is wholly inconsistent with the sense of these clauses. Why do I make this claim?

The amendment’s language does not include “…because God said so,” but it might just as well. Look only to Mr. Lindquist’s singular argument in favor of the amendment, which is that “…marriage was divinely defined by the Creator as being between one man and one woman.”

This is the bedrock assertion of a religiously-based movement opposed to same-sex marriage, and this amendment would codify a religious belief into constitutional law. It would have the effect of the state endorsing a religion.

As for the belief that God defined marriage in the Bible, I have scoured the Internet for any source that points to that definition. There are copious citations of Bible verses, but none say “marriage is…”

However, in the transcript of an interview of Bishop Harry Jackson, a leading national figure in the anti-same-sex marriage movement (http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/08/07/jackson.same.sex.marriage/index.html), the bishop said, “The Bible is so clear in its support of heterosexual marriage there is little need for us to go through an exhaustive definition of biblical marriage… All the scriptures in the Bible concerning marriage presuppose heterosexual marriage.”)

The scriptures presuppose? If God is so opposed to gay marriage, why didn’t he just say so, so that scriptures didn’t have to presuppose? I will take this one more step and say, no, the scriptures didn’t presuppose; it is humans presupposing what scriptures mean.

Mr. Lindquist asks a rhetorical question: “…when and by whom was marriage defined as between one man and one woman?” His answer is that it was the Creator, not the president, not a CEO and not a retired pastor.

I disagree. It was defined by human societies and over time some of these societies, albeit grudgingly, came to accepting that equality and freedom are not the bastion of just one group; that all share those rights “inherent in the people.”

I will defend Mr. Lindquist’s right to his religious beliefs, but not his presumption that his belief should be allowed to proscribe the rights of others, especially through constitutional amendment.

Al Ferber



Inability to dialogue

To the Editor:

Recently I contacted Mandy Benz regarding the proposed constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. After much evasiveness, she admitted she supports the amendment.

Although this was not the answer I want my representative to endorse, I was more disturbed by Mandy’s inability to dialogue with reason or listen to any opposition to her “beliefs.”

I believe Mandy’s position on the amendment is discrimination much like women not being able to vote simply because they were born women; this amendment denies a group of people the right to legally marry simply because they were born gay.

Mandy invoked the Bible in support of her position. I pointed out the Bible advocates many other practices that today many agree are discriminatory, so citing it in opposition to gay marriage requires selective reading.

She became hostile and self-righteous. Mandy attempted to validate her stance because she “went to church every Sunday.”

While I may commend Mandy on her religious convictions, the separation of church and state exists precisely for situations like this.

A good public servant would represent the interests of all the constituents, to hear their views and respectfully work with people they may not agree with.

Mandy Benz does not appear to be such a person.

Carrie Orr
Coon Rapids


Military suicides

To the Editor:

September has been designated as Military Suicide Awareness Month by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

I found this poem while helping my cousins in Wahpeton, N.D., following their father’s death. Their father, Harold Speral, served in World War II in a branch of the Navy.

I just heard on TV that military suicides are up, and I thought this poem most appropriate.

He Said He Had A Friend

Dear Mom and Dad

The war is done. My task is through.

But Mom, there’s something great that I must ask you.

I have a friend, Oh, such a friend. He has no home, you see.

and so, Mom, I would really like to bring him home with me.

Dear Son,

We don’t mind, if someone comes home with you.

I’m sure he could stay with us, perhaps a week or two.

Dear Mom,

There’s something you must know – now please don’t be alarmed –

My friend, in a battle recently, was hurt and lost an arm.

My Son,

Don’t be alarmed to bring him home with you.

Perhaps he could stay and visit for a day or two.

Dear Mom,

But, Mother, He’s not just a friend, he’s like a brother too.
That’s why I want him with us, and like to son to you.

Before you give your answer, Mom – I really don’t want to beg – but my friend fought in a battle in which he lost his leg.

Dear Son,

It hurts so much to say my answer must be “No”for Dad and I have no time for the boy who is crippled so.

So months go by, a letter comes, it says their son has died. And when they read the cause of death – The shock was “suicide”

Days later, when the casket came draped in our country’s flag, they saw their son lying there without an arm or leg.

– anonymous –

Thanks, Mary Kaye Kath
Coon Rapids Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary

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