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Letter: Time to stop legislating morality

Brent Waldemarsen (Public Forum, Dec. 24) suggests that those opposed to bringing the marriage amendment to public vote lack basis for intelligent debate. OK, I'll take the bait.

Lawmakers are responsible for upholding the state constitution. The marriage amendment sets precedent by using the constitution to restrict citizens' rights. Tangible harm results from enacting an amendment that says, "[a]ny other relationship shall not be recognized as a marriage or its legal equivalent by the state or any of its political subdivisions." Ohio's similar amendment resulted in lawsuits to eliminate domestic partner benefits. In contrast, amendment proponents cannot point to tangible harm caused by the amendment's absence.

The institution of marriage is strengthened by legally acknowledging commitment between partners, heterosexual or homosexual, rather than weakened. If there's an attack on marriage, it's reflected in high divorce rates with their impact on children and societal stability. Nothing's gained by further institutionalizing some commitments over others.

Waldemarsen states the amendment will protect us from the "decline of moral absolutes just so a few don't feel bad." Why push for constitutional restriction for this one moral behavior? Homosexuality receives little Biblical reference. It doesn't even make the Moses top 10! If we're trying to legislate morality via the constitution, let's be sure to restrict marriage among adulterers and murderers too. Such selectivity in moral restrictions creates suspicion of bigotry and intolerance.

Lastly, Waldemarsen suggests that being told "no helps us from making bad decisions." What bad decisions? Perhaps "deciding" that one is homosexual or heterosexual? Those who believe this is affected by constitutional amendment need to tell me when they sat down and decided, "Well, I could go either way, but because the Bible and Minnesota statute tell me it's wrong, I guess I'll be heterosexual and marry someone of the opposite sex."

By not forwarding the amendment for a public vote our representatives are upholding the integrity of the constitution and limiting wasteful spending. In 2006 we need to work on issues that actually affect the well-being of our citizens and the state's vitality rather than wasting further effort on this divisive issue.

Jeffrey Ratliff-Crain