Keep church and state separate

Catholic bishops should keep their opinion on marriage in the church.

Editorial board

Recently, MinnesotaâÄôs Roman Catholic bishops have been trying to mobilize their congregations to change the state constitution of Minnesota. These bishops are attempting to use the institutional power of the Catholic Church to impose their religious beliefs upon non-Catholics.

If a certain church decides not to confer a marriage covenant as defined by their religion upon a gay couple, they have the constitutional right to do so. However, imposition of those beliefs on the rest of society is not just wrong and impractical; it is also unlawful church influence on the state.

These bishops are unacceptably exercising their power as a religious institution âÄî there are about one million Catholics in Minnesota âÄî to restrict the rights of other Minnesotans who may have different beliefs.

There are thousands of gay citizens in Minnesota who are not afforded the same legal rights conferred upon civilly married couples. Joint parenting, adoption, foster care, custody of children, status as next of kin for hospital visits, medical decisions, joint insurance policies and leases, veteransâÄô discounts, wrongful death benefits and inheritance in the absence of a will are only a few of the 1,400 state and federal rights that married heterosexual couples have, but gay couples do not. But even those who oppose gay marriage should be upset that the church is using its institutional power to influence the state constitution.

Minnesotans should not confine their definition of a civil marriage to the definition of marriage according to a particular religious group. The bishops attempting to mobilize their congregations to constitutionally ban gay marriage should stick to preaching their ideas at church, not interfering with the state.