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Letters: Extremists come out of the closet

Extremists come out of the closet This week supporters of equality at the Capitol announced plans to pass a bill that would allow (not require) city and county governments to extend health insurance benefits to their employees' same-sex partners....

Extremists come

out of the closet

This week supporters of equality at the Capitol announced plans to pass a bill that would allow (not require) city and county governments to extend health insurance benefits to their employees' same-sex partners. As expected, the Minnesota Family Council and other conservative evangelicals denounced the bill and unveiled their own plans to lobby against it.

Given the success of Democrats in the recent elections and the ever-increasing public acceptance of equality for gays and lesbians, groups like the Family Council are becoming increasingly extremist and their rhetoric reflects their desperation. Case in point, Jeff Davis, president of Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage, was recently quoted in the Star Tribune as saying, "The sponsors of this bill are attempting to give homosexuals special rights by granting them marital privileges without the responsibilities of a marital contract."

Really? The label "special rights" indicates these rights are not available to other employees. In reality, these rights are already available to heterosexual married couples. Therefore, the extension to same-sex couples of these rights is not an example of us being afforded "special" rights but rather of equal rights.

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Furthermore, by pointing out that same-sex couples in Minnesota do not have recognized marital contracts and their attendant legal responsibilities, Mr. Davis leads us to believe same-sex partners have willingly not obtained such contracts and aren't capable of behaving toward each other in responsible ways. Again, reality intervenes when we are reminded that the federal and Minnesota governments prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying and that same-sex couples care for each other and their families in the exact same responsible manner that heterosexual couples do.

Mr. Davis and the Minnesota Family Council inflict far more harm on our democracy and civil rights with their distortions of truth and misleading rhetoric than the loving commitments of thousands of same-sex couples in Minnesota. As we continue to battle religious extremism and its divisive effects in Iraq and Afghanistan, we would be well advised to recognize and confront these same forces at home.

Jason Schellack

St. Paul

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