Posted: 09/30/12 20:22, Edited: 09/30/12 20:24
by Dave Mindeman
Matt Birk's commentary in the Star Tribune regarding his decision to vote YES on the Marriage Discrimination Amendment is thoughtful and respectful. I think his beliefs in this regard are sincere...but he is still wrong about his conclusions.
Birk's work at pregnancy centers and underprivileged schools is exemplary and shows that he truly cares about kids. But I still do not understand why a Yes vote on this amendment has any bearing on his beliefs or his work.
He correctly points out that single parents have a tough time, but he also points out how many are heroically making it work and raising healthy, mentally prepared children.
But this idea that children have to have a "mom and a dad" is not quite the issue. What children need is a stable family home. That can be done with a heterosexual couple, a gay couple, or even a single parent with extended family help. The "mom and dad' rule is a traditional one, not a scientific one.
Numerous studies have shown that children brought up by gay couples have no differences in outcomes. None.
A 2005 news article on WebMD had this to say:
Researchers looked at information gleaned from 15 studies on more than 500 children, evaluating possible stigma, teasing and social isolation, adjustment and self-esteem, opposite gender role models, sexual orientation, and strengths.
Studies from 1981 to 1994, including 260 children reared by either heterosexual mothers or same-sex mothers after divorce, found no differences in intelligence, type or prevalence of psychiatric disorders, self-esteem, well-being, peer relationships, couple relationships, or parental stress.
Matt Birk thinks the argument boils down to this:
The union of a man and a woman is privileged and recognized by society as "marriage" for a reason, and it's not because the government has a vested interest in celebrating the love between two people. With good reason, government recognizes marriages and gives them certain legal benefits so they can provide a stable, nurturing environment for the next generation of citizens: our kids.
Birk is extrapolating reasons for marriage from a personal sense, not from a legal sense. Marriage contracts aren't some legal construct for nuturing kids -- marriage has become an established legal entity for contracts and establish rights for the parties involved. Kids are, if you will, an optional part of that contract. They come later...sometimes not at all. Making children the reason for marriage as a legal union is simply incorrect.
Birk does make one good point...
Marriage is in trouble right now -- admittedly, for many reasons that have little to do with same-sex unions.
And he brings up a political truism that, again, is not part of the marriage argument -- but a valid point. He states....
In the last few years, political forces and a culture of relativism have replaced "I am my brother's keeper" and "love your neighbor as yourself" with "live and let live" and "if it feels good, go ahead and do it."
That political force is oh so true in budgetary processes and our ideas on the poor and tax fairness. But how this would pertain to the amendment argument is dubious at best.
Birk tries to sum up his position in this manner:
Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children -- the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.
Birk means well but never gives any kind of specific instance as to how same-sex unions would affect his children...or any other heterosexual couple with children. No evidence. No facts. No reasoning.
The bigger point is that we are not "redefining" marriage here. This amendment wouldn't change anything in current law -- only the Constitution. And if DOMA would eventually be overturned, we would simply be broadening the legal definition. The traditional definition is not changed...not affected.
Here is the real truth. Churches may object to same-sex marriages. They can continue that objection. Nobody is making them change anything and the rules they make that affect their own membership is their own business. Nobody is forcing them to change. But to change the Constitution of Minnesota, which guides everyone in the state -- Christians, non-Christians alike --that is simply wrong.
I respect Matt Birk's opinion; but it is HIS opinion. The State of Minnesota can't be ruled by opinions of a few --it needs to be the legal guide for everyone.