Letter to the Editor: Overcoming Marriage Amendment Fears

Karyn Milos says amendment support rooted in fears about loss of religion—and empathetic conversations are the way around that.

To the Editor:

For more than a year I and thousands of other Minnesotans have been holding conversations about the marriage amendment. We lay out our most rational arguments, citing research in biological as well as social science demonstrating that same-sex orientation is a benign, natural variation in human sexuality. We offer stories of real people who would be hurt by permanently restricting the definition of marriage to exclude same-sex couples.

Many people have been persuaded that voting "no" is the right thing to do. Staunch supporters of the amendment, however, remain unmoved. They are not pondering our rational arguments. They are not empathizing with the hardships and harassment that gay people still endure in many places in our society.

Are they wicked "haters"? In most cases, no.

Where we opponents see the amendment as an attack on human dignity and civil rights, supporters of the amendment see themselves as defenders of what they hold to be an immutable truth: the belief that homosexuality is morally wrong.

Their religious assemblies teach that it is sinful to enter into homosexual relationships, and that this teaching comes from God. Granting legal recognition to homosexual couples, applying the term "marriage" equally, would imply that the religious teaching is not, after all, true.

If this long-standing moral teaching is not true, then what other religious teachings are likewise not true? When one's sense of identity and security in the world is rooted in believing that one's religion is the ultimate source of moral truth, any challenge to that belief feels threatening to that identity and security.

All of our reasoned appeals to science and research and personal experience are of no avail unless we also address the fear that prevents marriage-equality opponents from being open to seeing the evidence, hearing the reasoning, and empathizing with the cost of homophobia in real people's lives.

In order to feel free to question long-held beliefs, we need to feel safe in doing so. We need to shift our center of security from faith in our beliefs about God to faith in God. We can recognize that human perspectives evolve over time as we reflect upon new information, evidence, and experience. We can allow our beliefs to change as our knowledge and understanding changes and still remain connected with that Presence we call "God."

As we take the leap of faith from fear to trust, we open ourselves to not only believing but experiencing that love and compassion are the very essence of God. And we become free to extend that love and compassion to other people, including the ones we once believed to be strangers.

And we are no longer afraid.



Karyn Milos

Jesse Lykken October 29, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Saying that the proponents of the amendment are merely defending the institution of marriage against something they view to be morally wrong is giving them WAY too much credit. Would you give the white folks back in the Jim Crow South credit for supporting the fight against integration, which they argued was "morally wrong"? I hope not. Then, as now, small people wish to feel better about themselves by denying something to others. They feel especially satisfied if the "others" are often smarter, richer, and/or better educated than they are. Remember when blacks first started going to college, and landing good jobs? The fight against integration was never more rabid. Same thing here. Nobody wants to feel like they are on the bottom (pun intended). If I can do something legally that you cannot, I must somehow be better than you. The Marriage Amendment debate is about power as much as it is about morality. It's a mistake to frame the argument as one wherein two rational people can disagree, because it simply isn't. Any vote other than "NO" is preposterous and inexcusable in a supposedly freedom-loving society.
Donald Lee October 29, 2012 at 05:19 AM
This is simply not accurate. Very little said here about the marriage amendment, or its supporters is accurate. For instance, my support for the marriage amendment is in support of the stability of law, and the idea that activist judges should not be in the business of deciding what are fundamentally political questions. The disruption and chaos that would ensue if a court case were to transform our marriage laws is considerable, and the agenda of the GLBT community to use the law to label those who oppose their agenda is a direct threat to basic freedoms, and the authority of parents in the classroom. Note the tone of the comment above - it is not exactly open minded or humble. This is the tone of the debate, and presages the character of the changes we can expect if the marriage amendment fails. The marriage amendment does almost nothing. It changes no law. Whether it passes or fails, same sex marriage will remain unrecognized in Minnesota. Legal marriage is not about the desires of adults, but about ensuring that couples who bear children are bound to their upbringing. Millions of Minnesotans have organized their lives around this well (and wisely) defined institution. It should not be re-defined. Many of these points are documented and supported at the Minnesota for Marriage website. http://www.minnesotaformarriage.com/
Torre Giller October 29, 2012 at 09:29 AM
The comment that " Legal marriage is not about the desires of adults, but about ensuring that couples who bear children are bound to their upbringing. " is preposterous and absolutely contradicts your statement that marriage is "well defined", obviously if that were true then people who are past childbearing years, or unable to procreate, would not be able to legally get married. Also it seems that would mean that people who have children MUST get married & are not legally allowed to divorce. Where are the constitutional amendments calling for these laws to be enacted & enforced?? If marriage wasn't about two people loving each other & wanting to commit to spending the rest of their lives together, what is the point in 70 yr old widows/widowers deciding to (& being allowed to legally) get married?? It is obviously not for the sake of bringing up children.
Sarah Joyce October 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I'm sorry, but religion is the biggest source of oppression in the history of the world. We are an advanced, modern society now. We don't need to follow ancient superstitions. Let's discard this unprovable notion so many call "God" and just do the right thing for human society. If we got rid of religion altogether, this world would be a much better place. Empathy and the golden rule will get us much farther than any ancient text.
Melanie Davidson October 29, 2012 at 01:56 PM
If marriage is solely to see that "couples who bear children are bound to their upbringing," why don't we force all unwed mothers to marry the fathers of their children? Permanently closing the door on couples who have to *want* children to have children does not solve the problem you are talking about. We have child support laws to ensure that both parents participate, at least financially, toward the well-being of the child. You are scapegoating. Gay people wanting to get married has nothing to do with straight people not wanting to.
Michael Hindin October 29, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Minnestotans for marriage is hardly and unbiased source. The rabbis in question only speak for themselves and some orthodox congregations. Many conservative rabbis publicly oppose the amendment.
Michael Hindin October 29, 2012 at 02:19 PM
If you are afraid of liberal judges interpreting the constitution perhaps you are really afraid of our liberal constitution! King George and the Tories were the repressive the rightwing transglobal corporation. The original tea party was colonial merchants protesting the British East India Company right wing ultra wealthy royals getting preferred tax treatment over colonial tea merchants. The current tea party is the Koch brothers and other multi millionaires pretending to be grass roots friends of common folks while picking our pockets at the gas pump, trashing our environment and looting tax revenues.
Michael Hindin October 29, 2012 at 02:23 PM
This has nothing to do with marriage. This is about the Tea Party Republicans wealthy sponsors harvesting votes from fearful people who are led to believe that the First Amendment protections of churches rights to control both memberships and religious rules like marriage don't exist.
Emily B October 29, 2012 at 06:16 PM
"The disruption and chaos that would ensue if a court case were to transform our marriage laws is considerable" - Really? Guess I missed the riots and complete disintegration of society in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and DC.
Keith Best October 29, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Marriage is between a man and a woman.
Keith Best October 29, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Mike Hindin- you have NO Clue on the Koch Bros. Did you know they employ 50,000 people with alot of those high-paying union jobs? That puts alot of roofs over people's heads and food on their tables. Not only that, they donate $millions to the Sloan Ketterling Memorial Cancer Research Center. Bet you didn't know that either. And one more thing, they contribute a lot less money then George Soros does for political causes.
Wm Shears October 30, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Fear and bigotry are why we get these social cause-misnamed hate groups. Dr. Dobson, who says you should hit your kids with a paddle (that you keep on the wall). That's what the GOP is all about--punishment, only one way of doing things, forcing your religion on everyone, deregulation so you can cheat and make a fortune. If Jesus came down today, he would surely attend gay weddings, and he would rip into groups like Minnesotans for Marriage.
guy davidson October 30, 2012 at 01:43 AM
My only hope is that some day my kid's kindergarten class is not taught by an LBGT transgender with hairy legs in a dress talking about how his operations are going. Is that too much to ask?
Michael Hindin October 30, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Actually I did know that about the Koch Brothers. Their family started the John Birch Society and they provided their employees with a letter telling them who to vote for with the implied threat that there would be layoffs if President Obama wins a second term. Also they control 70% of the refining capacity in Minnesota and they don't pay world prices for crude oil as they buy American and Canadian oil on long term contracts. They profiteer heavily on the difference. The helped found and fund the "grass roots tea party" for the "benefit of the workers" They funded the Wisconsin campaign against public unions to lower wages for all workers. If you believe in the free market you know that creating a pool of lower wage and unemployed workers means that workers lose thier bargaining power for raises and benefits since lower wage workers are available. They also funded segregationist School boared members in South Carolina. I don't care what George Soros contributes.
Michael Hindin October 30, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Your religious beliefs are perfect for you. The First Amendment (US Constitution) guarantees your church and yourself the right to determine membership qualifications and marriage qualifications for your church. So "marriage is between a man and a women" in your church as it should be, but don't tell mine who to marry. If you don't like gay marriage you are absolutely free to marry a heterosexual if one would have you. The Fourth Amendment to the Us Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law and the US Supreme court, with the votes of conservative judges, will eventually overturn DOMA and grant homosexuals equal legal treatment. Why are Republicans so obsessed with sex anyway? Republican officeholders and candidates have more issues with sexual misconduct or stupid atatements than a pack of fraternity boys. A child of rape would be a "gift from God" that keeps on giving. After 30 years we are still parents concerned for our adult kids. A raped women would live with the nightmare and a child forced on her for her life time. You and your church do not have a right to enforce your religious beliefs on us via civil law and constitutional amendments.
James Sanna (Editor) October 30, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Woah, Guy. What's with the transphobia? Not cool. A trans person has as much a right as you or I do to live as the gender they feel they really are. I can't think of why it *would* be a problem for your child to have a transgender teacher. Every teacher I've ever met has had a very clear sense of what's an age-appropriate topic for classroom discussion and what's not. Why not have kids learn at an early age that transgender folks are just one of the many different kinds of "normal" humans?
Jesse Lykken October 30, 2012 at 06:47 AM
Mr. Davidson, I found your comment to be truly enlightening. Your words completely and absolutely confirm the position I took in my opening letter. You were able to say more in just a couple of sentences than I was in an entire long-winded paragraph. Well done!
Peter October 30, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Thank you for this very well-written, thoughtful article. I will be voting NO on both amendments.
Matt Kennedy October 30, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Oh yes; Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Kim Jong Il are all known for their deep religious faith. The facts are that both religious and atheistic ideologies have plenty of blood on their hands. Don't pretend that the elimination of religion will somehow improve the world. Thats drivel best left for lousy John Lennon songs.
Emily B October 30, 2012 at 08:31 PM
So many things I take issue with in your comment (aside from what James mentioned). First, as a woman, I resent the fact that you imply there is something wrong with having hairy legs and wearing a dress. When you wake up several days a week and start shaving your legs, then you can start critiquing other people's leg hair. Second, if I understand your implication correctly, your hypothetical person would more likely prefer to be referred to with the feminine pronoun "her." Third, though LBGT is not incorrect, generally the order is LGBT or GLBT. And saying transgender after that is redundant. Finally, "transgender" is an adjective, not a noun. Please use it as such.
Tommy Johnson October 30, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Conservatives allegedly believe: Less government is better government; Government needs to get the (heck) out of people's lives; A man's home is his castle; And Government stops that that Castle's front door. Well, if they truly believed that, they couldn't care less if John is with Jill or John is with Jack, behind the door where government stops. Real "conservatives" should be championing the Vote No campaign, and petitioning the Government for civil rights for all. It's religious bigots that oppose Civil Rights for all, and I have no time for them. They have no right to inflict their religious beliefs on me and my family and my Church. None.
Wm Shears October 30, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Guy, That's ridiculous...do you know how often that happens? Never. Why would that person, struggling with something that we cannot comprehend, subject himself/herself to the ridicule of a bunch of kids and a witch hunt by the parents. I've met a few of the people you're talking about, and all they want is to feel like the body they are in is the right one, and simply be accepted as a member of society. Simple things, like have a conversation with the pharmacist, hang out at the book store where they are friendly, have a cup of coffee with a friend on the street without being spit at by Tea Party teens. To be treated with kindness and acceptance. Now, is THAT too much to ask>
Heyitsme October 30, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Considering that there is only two major oil refineries in the state of Minnesota..yeah the math would be right Koch Industries owns 70% of the oil refining business in Minnesota. Would you rather there wasn't any refineries in Minnesota and we would have to import all of the gasoline/fuel for consumption? The "Koch" refinery also provides 80% of the jet fuel used by the MSP airport and the outlying airports in the state. Can you imagine how expensive and difficult it would be to get out of Minnesota on a plane without this supply? How about the jobs that they support? I guess that doesn't make a difference. 2nd largest privately held company in the world..doesn't make a dent compared to the largest (can you name that one???) They are a privately held company and they fairly compensate. Many people that have left the refinery cannot get jobs in Minnesota making the same rate or higher rate of salary for the same work (and there is not much other refinery work in this state). Private companies don't want unions because unions are money grubbing and put people out of work. (take a gander at DETROIT for that one). You should worry about what George Soros contributes to...that is fair and doing your research without bias against those that worked to get where they are. Class warfare again! Same old song and dance.
Heyitsme October 30, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Do NOT lump all conservatives into the Christian group, or Tea Party Republicans. Talk about labeling and hatred. It's ok when its on the one side.
Heyitsme October 30, 2012 at 09:55 PM
"To be treated with kindness and acceptance. Now, is THAT too much to ask"....that is a TWO way street. Not exclusive to one side or the other. Spitting on anyone is rude.
guy davidson November 03, 2012 at 03:43 AM
I think this school is still taking students for this year... all the liberals please let me know what your kids learn while they are there... Hmmm http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/college-allows-transgender-man-to-expose-himself-to-young-girls.html
mike savick November 03, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Well Guy I'm sure Fox News would always approach the subject with a fair and balanced approach including the GLBT folks who contribute heavily to our community and are in pain because of constant bullying. Of course Rupert Murdock didn't have to go through the immigration process like my grandparents and parents. He got a special bill passed by the republicans to grant him citizenship which he needed to buy and monopolize news media. Republicans got their payback with Fox noise and propaganda. Be sure to thank the Koch brothers who sponsor the "grass roots" tea party with their excessive profits at the gas pump. They own 70% of the refining capacity in Minnesota and the pipelines from Canada and north Dakota that feed the refineries. Largely your meanness is fueled by mental constipation and oral diarrhea.
Joe Carlin November 06, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Donald, you may believe all of that. But then you are making this amendment about your beliefs with absolutely zero respect for the beliefs of others, to the point of using the constitution to make the government to force your beliefs on others. "Activist" judges are merely judges you disagree with. "Stability" of the law is completely absurd, because for that reason we never would have knocked down laws regarding slavery, segregation and other forms of systematic discrimination. "Chaos"? Are you serious? Truth is, the supporters of the amendment don't care about freedom. Already, right here in Minnesota, a teacher was fired simply for mentioning on a private form that she opposed this amendment. The Catholic Church defunded a charity simply for opposing this amendment. And school were indoctrinating children as young as 6 to get their parents to vote for this amendment. And yet you deny that none of any of this has come to pass in Iowa since legalization of marriage equality there. It's not that you want freedom. It's that you want to hoard freedom for yourself and deny it to others. That is the very essence of this amendment, and anyone who wants freedom should definitely vote no!
Joe Carlin November 06, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Lucky for you, if this fails, men and women will still be able to marry!


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