Friday, May 10, 2013

Is Minnesota creating a new class of bigots?

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that allows same-sex couples the right to civil marriage.  The bill now goes to the Minnesota Senate. The St. Paul Pioneer Press article on the passage is here.  The article contains a statement from Minnesotans for Marriage. The group is not really aptly named because the only type of marriage they are for is heterosexual marriage. The statement is intended to encourage the Minnesota Senate to block the bill.

The statement includes these two sentences:
The Senate must ask themselves whether or not they will choose to classify half of Minnesotans who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots under the law. They must decide whether it is important in Minnesota to encourage connecting children with their parents.
I have not followed the details of the same-sex marriage debate very closely but I do not believe I have heard this argument before. Minnesotans for Marriage says that if the state allows same-sex marriage then the state is saying that anyone who opposes same-sex marriage is a bigot. It had not occurred to me that the states that allow gay marriage are making a value judgment about the people who oppose gay marriage. It seems akin to saying that because the state allows free speech anyone who disagrees with a speech made by anyone opposes free speech. Mr. Torvik's state already allows same-sex civil unions. What do you think Mr. Torvik? Did Illinois create a new class of bigots when they passed the law allowing those unions? This argument seems more silly than persuasive. 

The second statement seems equally silly. How does passing same sex marriage discourage "connecting children with their parents"? If a same-sex married couple has a child one presumes that one of the couple is the natural parent of the child or the couple adopted the child. If the former, the connection between the child and their parent is what it is regardless of whether the parent is in a same-sex marriage or just a same-sex relationship. If the latter, Minnesota already allows same-sex couples to adopt children. So I suppose from the perspective of Minnesotans for Marriage, the state is already discouraging connecting children with their parents by allowing same-sex couples to adopt. It is hard to see how allowing same-sex marriage is further discouraging the connection of children to their parents.

Children were evidently a big theme for the bill's opponents. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Representative Glenn Gruenhagen, urged his fellow representatives to "think about what's best for the children." and vote against the bill. Whether or not Representative Gruenhagen was thinking about the children of same-sex couples is not clear from the story. 

It will be interesting to see whether the Minnesota Senate agrees with these arguments. The New York Times reports that passage of the bill in the Minnesota is more likely than was predicted for the Minnesota House. It will also be interesting to see if the voters who Minnesotans for Marriage says are going to be classified as bigots vote to retain the legislators who passed the bill. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree that laws allowing same-sex unions or marriages do not imply that people who oppose those laws are bigots, necessarily. You could have a utilitarian justification for opposing same-sex marriage, I suppose.

    That said, efforts to have same-sex marriage recognized as a constitutional right do, I think, rest at least partially on a notion that opponents of same-sex marriage are bigots. The argument is that there is no "rational basis" for limiting marriage to heterosexuals. This is basically an argument that bigotry is the only justification for preventing gays from marrying.


Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.