What does the Minnesota Marriage Amendment mean?

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Minnesotans will be casting their vote for a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Local supporters of the amendment say that it is about defending the institution of marriage as it has been defined for a long time, while opponents of the amendment believe that marriage should be for all couples to enjoy.

Jeff Burton is the head pastor at Lakeview Covenant Church. He is one of the supporters of the amendment and believes in what people call the "traditional" definition of marriage.

"Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman," Burton said.

Burton said that in his life he has studied biblical scriptures intensively. He believes that as a congregation they have to approach the world through the lens of this scripture. To that end, Burton sees marriage as a "very high and sacred institution."

"It's a very core biblical picture," Burton said.

Burton sees marriage as a "foundational institution." He said this amendment is very important, as it allows people to weigh in on something important to them.

On the other side of the issue is Steven Wick, a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a part of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, or MPIRG, and has been since August. He said that MPIRG is a student-run, non-profit organization, and that the seven different campus chapters have taken a near universal stance against the marriage amendment.

"More and more people these days feel that gay marriage is not an issue," Wick said.

This stance was decided at the organization's annual Issues and Actions Conference last spring. "We as students feel that marriage should be something all couples enjoy," Wick said.

Wick said that this is only the first step in the legal battle on same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

There is the religious and human rights side to the argument, but, in the end, what does this amendment mean to our state from a legal standpoint?

Joseph L. Staats, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota Duluth said the amendment does not really change anything, and is sort of a pre-emptive measure to prevent judges from ruling that laws restricting marriage rights are unconstitutional.

"Most state constitutions have words to the effect of protecting individual rights," Staats said.

Staats points to an old court case "Loving v. Virginia" where an interracial couple was charged with violating Virginian state law by disobeying a statute that banned interracial marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned this decision, calling it unconstitutional.

Since there is not a national statute on this yet, Staats believes that the "yes" supporters are attempting to block future attempts to overturn laws restricting marriage.

"It's changing the possible meaning of some other provision of the constitution," Staats said.





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