Senator Nienow’s report regarding the passage of the marriage bill allowing same-sex marriage was somewhat disingenuous.
His implication that gay marriages are less amenable to raising children has not been born out in any reputable, peer-reviewed studies.
In fact, such studies indicate that children in same-sex households do about as well as in heterosexual households. Additionally, legalizing same-sex marriage may confer additional benefits, such as increased financial stability, increased durability and stability of the parent’s relationship, and increased social acceptance and support.
Religious freedom is protected in the new law. It is clearly stated that the law pertains to ‘civil marriage’ as defined by the laws of the state of Minnesota. Additionally, an exemption to the Minnesota Human Rights Acts allows churches and other religious organizations to refuse any action related to solemnization/celebration of marriage in violation of that church or association’s belief; in short, churches can’t be forced to be involved in a gay couples marriage.
It was disturbing to listen during the debate to Sen. Nienow’s advocacy of an amendment to the bill exempting corporations, business, and individuals from providing ‘services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges that assist or promote the solemnization, formation, or celebration of any marriage, or that facilitate the development or preservation of any marriage, if that action would cause the person to violate the person’s sincerely held religious beliefs.’
While this language sounds innocuous, it is reminiscent of language cited in the past to refuse serving minorities. Such companies/individuals would be able to cite religious beliefs while denying service to gay couples, Muslim couples, interracial couples, or others they do not approve of. In effect, state-sanctioned discrimination.
The law in it’s current form, as just passed, will serve its purpose; to allow same-sex marriages while protecting churches and religious associations from being forced to endorse such unions against their will. Committed same-sex couples will be able to have the same benefits as other loving, committed couples.