September 14, 2012

Why We Must Oppose the Minnesota Marriage Amendment {featured contributor}

By Stacey L. Klempnauer

Stacey L. Klempnauer
This November Minnesotans will vote on the marriage amendment. We will vote on whether or not marriage should be strictly between a man and a woman, and whether we should amend our state constitution to say that a marriage cannot be between two people of the same sex. I will be voting “No” and I want to share with you my reasons why.

First, I am very concerned about the message we are sending to our children. If this amendment passes, we are saying that lesbians and gays are second class citizens, not worthy of the same rights as those of us who are not gay. This message does not serve anyone in a useful way. It’s a message that promotes bullying – an issue that schools are currently battling, poor self-esteem in anyone who is deemed different, and fear in those who already feel marginalized and alone. And unfortunately, we have only to look at Anoka Hennepin Schools to see that an unaccepting attitude can also have an enormous impact on teen suicide.

Some of us will be voting “Yes” because of our moral and family values. I wonder, what are those values? I grew up in the church and the values I was taught were about God’s love, our need to emulate that love, and that all people are children of God. It seems pretty clear to me that discrimination against a group of people is not about love, but about hatred and bigotry. If we are going to make our choices based upon our religious values, it seems to me that we could focus on The Bible’s many examples of love, kindness, and compassion.

Second, I’m a mother of two. There is plenty in this world that I don’t care much for, but I don’t think it’s my job to teach hate and intolerance to my children. My job as a parent is much more complicated: to teach acceptance of others whether we agree with them or not. It’s my job to teach my kids about the beauty of diversity and encourage that they stay true to what they believe in while also maintaining an open mind to new and different ideas.

Lastly, half of my family is gay. I have a sibling whose same sex relationship outlasted the legal marriage of our different sex parents. You might ask how in the world…? Because they love one another. It’s pretty simple. While some of us might feel that lesbian and gay relationships are an abomination against God, they are really only about love.

I respect that there are people who don’t share my views (and I have no desire to pass a law to restrict your rights, by the way), and who are against same sex marriage. To you I would say, “don’t get into one”. That’s your right. It is not your right, in my opinion, to restrict the rights of others.

Regardless of where you fall on the issue, we have an opportunity here to think about whether it’s a good idea to alter the Minnesota constitution to legitimize discrimination. We have the opportunity to think about what, and how, we are teaching our children. And we have an opportunity to put into practice what we know about love, compassion, and acceptance of all people.

-- Stacey L. Klempnauer is a licensed independent clinical social worker who lives and works in Northfield, MN with her husband and their two sons. She has been working in public health and social work for the past 15 years. In 2006, she opened her own private practice as a psychotherapist.

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