Same-sex marriage foes rally

Hundreds gathered at the state Capitol to oppose legalizing same-sex marriage.

Rally attendants cheer during the Minnesota for Marriage rally on Thursday, March 7, 2013, at the State Capital.

Bridget Bennett

Rally attendants cheer during the Minnesota for Marriage rally on Thursday, March 7, 2013, at the State Capital.

by Jessica Lee

As legislators prepare to push a same-sex marriage bill through the state Legislature, opponents say it’s not right for the state.

At the state Capitol on Thursday, nearly 1,000 Minnesotans urged politicians to vote down a bill that would repeal a 1997 state statute that bans same-sex marriage.

About 40 of the 201 state politicians stood against the bill authored by Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, which will get its first hearing Tuesday.

“Marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman for a reason — because government does have an interest of protecting children. They’re the reason we’re here,” said Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover. “It’s not about two adults.”

At the rally, hosted by Minnesota for Marriage, legislators, clergy and traditional-marriage activists stressed the legislation doesn’t match the belief of most Minnesotans.

According to a Star Tribune Minnesota poll released last week, 53 percent of people said they think the Legislature should not legalize same-sex marriage.

But the poll found there’s strong support for legalization in the metro area and from young people.

About 57 percent of people in the Twin Cities area want same-sex marriage legalized, and more than half of people ages 18 to 34 are in favor of the change as well.

Despite his party’s platform, Minnesota College Republicans chair Ryan Lyk, a political science major at the University of Minnesota, released a statement last week supporting the bill.

“I know I speak for many young Republicans when I say that it is time for the Republican Party to move past this issue,” he said in the release.

Susan Eckstein, chair of the University of Minnesota’s College Republicans said Lyk’s support doesn’t necessarily mirror her group’s beliefs.

“Our members have a wide range of views, so we just leave it up to [each member of] the group,” she said. “We don’t plan on making an announcement” either way.

National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown spoke at the rally as same-sex marriage opponents passed out Bible verses and waved magenta signs reading, “Don’t lie to children.”

Brown pressed the enthusiastic crowd to tell legislators to oppose the bill.

“Proponents of same-sex marriage want us to believe that this is inevitable, that this is going to come no matter what we do, so we might as well pack it up, go back to our worlds and stop fighting,” he said. “We will never stop fighting for the truth.”

Brown said the defeat of the marriage amendment ballot question in the fall was due to expensive advertising from same-sex marriage supporters.

Autumn Leva, spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, also said the results of the election don’t necessarily mean Minnesota voters want to legalize same-sex marriage.

Opponents are coming back to fight the current bill “stronger than before,” Brown said.

Organizers bused people from across the state, especially greater Minnesota, to attend the rally.

High school student Betsy Yoder from Makinen, Minn., and her friends held a large canvas sign that said, “The legalization of homosexuality induce children to gay relationships.”

She said she “hopes people understand that gay marriage isn’t a right.”

Jacob Giese, a member of Yoder’s church, said he supports traditional marriage for more reasons than his faith.

“The natural law says that the happiest, healthiest homes to raise kids are ones shared by a man and a woman in a monogamous relationship,” he said.

The same-sex marriage conversation shares similarities with the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Brown said.

“Dr. King knew that the law is supposed to reflect the truth about who we are as human beings, and the truth is that children deserve the chance to have both a mother and a father,” he said.

The U.S. Supreme Court later this month will take up a challenge to a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act.

DOMA denies legally married gay and lesbian couples federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive, like Social Security benefits and tax incentives.

“Gay and lesbian Minnesotans run business, vote, and serve in the military,” Lyk said in his statement. “They work hard, raise children, and contribute to the same system as the rest of us — and as such, they should have access to the same freedoms and opportunities as anyone else.”

Tuesday, same-sex bills from both houses, authored by Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, will receive their first hearings in the House Civil Law Committee and Senate Committee on Judiciary.

The House bill is expected to pass, but it’ll still face many hurdles in the full Legislature.

“They do not yet have the votes,” Brown said.