By Dan Erickson
On Election Day, voters across the state of Minnesota will fill the polls to decide whether the state constitution will be amended to specify that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage.
Gay marriage advocates have been fighting this amendment for months, encouraging Minnesotans to “Vote No” in the hopes that one day Minnesota might legalize same-sex marriages.
Of the 50 states in the U.S., 31 states have constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage. There are six states—Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont—where same-sex marriage is legal.
Every state that has legalized same-sex marriage has done so with a judicial ruling. The adoption of the marriage amendment in Minnesota would prevent this from happening, as judicial review is dependent upon whether laws are “constitutional” or not.
Minnesota has the potential to make history in this election, as no other state has ever shot down an amendment of this nature before.
While the U.S. Constitution has only been amended 27 times since it was ratified in 1788, the Minnesota Constitution has been amended far more frequently — 120 times since its ratification in 1858.
The main support for the amendment stems from the desire to protect the biblically established definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
Some proponents of the amendment argue that the word “marriage” should continue to represent a union between a man and a woman, and another term for same-sex marriage should be more widely adopted.
They view the struggle for the word marriage as a surface level dispute while the true objective is to attain the legal benefits that married couples enjoy.
Other supporters of the amendment, such as junior music performance major Jordan Johnson, believe that homosexuality is a sin. They hold that same-sex marriage should be illegal in both the eyes of God and of the state.
“If we give approval to what we believe is morally unacceptable, it will only lead to challenging even more of our moral standards,” said Johnson.
Opponents of the amendment are quick to point out that America was not founded as a theocracy, citing the separation of church and state as evidence that political decisions ought not to be made for religious reasons.
Typically, the fight for same-sex marriage centers its case on the precept of equality, claiming that limiting the freedom to marry discriminates against gays and lesbians based on their sexual preference.
Brett Sheppard, a junior social work major, plans on voting “no,” but for a different reason.
“Legally speaking, limiting marriage to one man and one woman is a violation of section one of amendment fourteen of the U.S. Constitution,” said Sheppard. “In my opinion, it should not be the church’s priority to use laws as a way to prevent people from sinning. Instead, it is the job of the church to love.”
Regardless of how the vote turns out, when November hits, Minnesota will find itself added to the contentious history of same-sex marriage legislation in the U.S.