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DOMA: The marriage of discrimination and religion


Fri, Mar 10th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

With the start of the 2006 Minnesota Legislative Session on March 1st, Republicans were aggressively pushing their tool to prevent gay marriage, the so called Defense of Marriage Amendment. Hundreds of thousands of DVDs distributed around the State featured Governor Pawlenty and three other top Republicans warning of the dangers to conventional marriage that gay marriage poses. Only a constitutional amendment will prevent an “activist Supreme Court” from overturning the present law which prohibits gay and lesbian couples from marrying.

Like most people my age I still feel a little uncomfortable around gay and lesbian people, even though my wife, Robin, and I have a few gay and lesbian friends. But I do not feel uncomfortable at all about defending their rights.

The Defense of Marriage Amendment (DOMA) does not have anything to do with defending marriage. It has everything to do with discriminating against people, in this case gay and lesbian people.

I am opposed to DOMA. I do not think it should be on the November ballot. Supporters of the Amendment do not want the Supreme Court to decide if gay and lesbian people should be able to marry. But that is exactly why we have a Supreme Court. The role of the Supreme Court is to act as a check and balance on the other two branches of government to insure that they do not violate our constitutional freedoms. I think it would be good if the Supreme Court considered whether gay and lesbian people can marry.

Beside the Republicans, who are using DOMA as a partisan wedge issue, two other groups are working to pass DOMA. They are the Minnesota Catholic Conference - the Catholic Bishops - and the Minnesota Family Council - the evangelicals (check their easy to find websites). I feel that these two groups are trying to force their religious views on everyone else. If they are successful it will blow a big hole in our Constitution. This will be the first time ever that the Constitution is used to deny rights to people. I disagree strongly with their actions.

I am tired of religion in politics. I think many people are. Religion is now used by some as a weapon to injure people politically. This country was founded by religious people, not on religious values, but on secular values: free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, due process and equal protection under the law. Those are the ideals that make it possible for all of us to get along, no matter what our religious beliefs.

I think the majority of people in our area have moderate religious views. I hope people with moderate religious views, people who feel as I feel that religion should be personal and private, will oppose DOMA; and that they will oppose the actions of religious groups who are pushing DOMA.

I agree with the recent commentary by Sen. John Marty that appeared a few weeks ago in the Journal. No one should feel threatened by gay and lesbian people marrying. It’s just different than what we are accustomed to. So was giving women the right to vote. So was ending slavery. So were contour strips. My dad said that when the first farmer on our ridge laid out contour strips in the late 30’s everyone laughed at him for plowing so crookedly. In a couple years everyone saw the wisdom of it.

I do not think we should discriminate against anyone for any reason. What’s the point of it?

Ken Tschumper has a small dairy farm west of La Crescent.

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