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opinion Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Preserve the Freedoms of Speech and Religion

Marriage. This word is causing a lot of fuss these days. At first glance, marriage appears to be a simple word with a simple meaning: husband and wife.

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The meaning of the word is colored largely by the person’s perception of it.

Whether it is joy, love, fear, or sadness, marriage is a word that is associated with many different emotions. Many people discuss marriage, and thus the amendment, in an emotional way. However, the decision to amend the Minnesota Constitution should not be based on emotion.

In my experience, the best decisions are rational and logical and based on facts, not emotions.

While there are many reasons why a marriage amendment is necessary, many people fail to understand that one of the most significant effects of the re-definition of marriage will be the infringement on the freedoms of speech and religion.

Faith leaders warn that the “most urgent peril” of marriage redefinition is the compulsion of individuals and organizations to treat same-sex relationships as the “moral equivalent” of marriage.

A 2008 report by the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty warned that the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States would trigger hundreds of state-level anti-discrimination laws, which would be used to bring lawsuits against religious individuals and organizations that refuse to: hire people involved in same sex relationships, perform same-sex wedding ceremonies or rent their church facilities for that purpose, or rent housing to same-sex couples. Furthermore, pastors who teach the morals of the faith can be accused of a hate crime, as has been done in Canada and Sweden.

In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston chose to get out of the adoption business rather than place children with same-sex couples as the law required. The same thing happened in D.C. in 2010, when Catholic Charities of D.C. handed over its 80-year-old foster care and public adoption program to a national group, rather than comply with a requirement that children be placed with homosexual couples.

Redefining marriage would penalize traditional marriage supporters and empower the government to overrule the consciences of its citizens.

Voting against this amendment would make marriage a meaningless political gesture, forever changing its religious, social and historical importance.

I encourage all people to protect marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and to consider carefully the far-reaching consequences for the religious freedom of all Americans if marriage is redefined.

May we all work together to strengthen and preserve the unique meaning of marriage as one man

and one woman and the precious gift of religious freedom. Vote “yes” on Nov. 6. If voters leave the marriage amendment box blank, it will count as a “no” vote, against the amendment.

Craig Nelson

Grand Rapids

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