Minnesota Rice

Friend and law professor Mark Osler wrote yesterday about the climate in Minnesota, both the meteorological and the political. As for the weather, it went from snow one week to 102 degrees the next. Today it’s back in the 50s. I don’t know what clothes to wear.

As for the politics, Minnesota is now the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage, moving from the brink of a constitutional ban on gay marriage to a legal embrace in a few short months. Osler writes,

A lot of theories are being advanced regarding this political whirlwind, but one thing seems clear to me:  The opponents of same-sex marriage never did much to explain in a convincing way how marriage equality would hurt anyone.  There was the vague assertion that it was bad for children, but that idea rested on the premise that a mother and father are intrinsically better than same-gender parents. This premise was never really and convincingly laid out in a convincing way to people who were not already committed to that side.
In this country, we tend to lean towards liberty as history progresses, especially in the absence of a countervailing harm.  That’s a good thing, and consistent with what the framers envisioned. Our impulse towards the  expansion of liberty is not something to apologize for.
Marriage equality as a legal provision reflects the culture we live in. People who previously opposed gay marriage have changed their mind, though few if any who supported it have changed theirs. I think most Christians appreciate that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in a democratic society is as problematic as discrimination based upon gender, religion or race. At the same time, Minnesota law allows for churches to exercise their own faith in these areas. We pastors have never been compelled by law to perform any marriage–we can discriminate as much as we choose.
Writing on immigration and faith, University of North Carolina history professor Molly Worthen made the recent observation that “Theology is our gloss on Gods word, always evolving alongside the revelations of real life.” As pastors wrestle with revelations and realities, as well as relationships and law and ancient texts, reaching consensus on gay marriage will remain difficult. But maybe that’s OK. As I discovered in Massachusetts, marriage equality is less about religion than it is about status before the law.


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