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Letter: Vote no on marriage amendment this fall

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." - Nelson Mandela

There are many unfounded fears about what would happen if the Minnesota "marriage amendment" is not passed. One of these fears is that recognizing the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry would limit religious freedom. In fact, it is current law that limits religious freedom. It prevents churches and pastors who wish to perform same-sex marriages from doing so. The proposed amendment would mean that the state of Minnesota forever denies churches the right to make that choice. Episcopal Deacon Rex McKee, Lutheran Pastor Jim Erlandson, and Rabbi Michael Latz agree: "Churches should decide for themselves which couples to marry - not government."

We urge you to make voting decisions based on fact, not fear. In fact, Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004. The impact on religious freedom has been nil. Pastors of all faiths still preach and teach as their faith leads them. Houses of worship remain open in the same numbers as they always have. The only change is that they are now all free to sanctify same-sex marriage, or not to, as they choose.

Some fear same-sex marriages are bad for children. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association has even proposed creating an "underground railroad" that would abduct these children and deliver them to more "desirable" homes. This is supposed to be pro-family? The fact is, rigorous research strongly indicates that whether a child's parents are straight or gay has no effect on their well-being. Having skilled, devoted parents is what makes all the difference.

Discriminatory laws do carry real dangers. We know this first-hand. Our grandson's mothers don't dare bring him here to visit us. Before they take him out of Massachusetts, our daughter-in-law must actually adopt her own child! She is married to our daughter, and her name is on their son's birth certificate as his parent, but she has no legal relationship to him in Minnesota. If something were to happen to our daughter here, our grandson could by law be removed from our daughter-in-law's custody. This is how the current discriminatory marriage law punishes families.

We urge everyone to vote this November, but vote based on facts, not fear. A no vote on the marriage amendment protects religious freedom and supports families.

Jean and John Lewandowski