Consider effects of ‘yes’ vote

This past Saturday there was a great letter in the opinion section of our local paper—the Fargo Forum—in regards to the upcoming marriage amendment vote in Minnesota. It totally deserves a link, and since the link will probably go bad in a week, here is the text.

By: Bernie Erickson, INFORUM

In a few weeks, Minnesotans will cast a “yes” or “no” vote that will dramatically affect marriage for thousands of people. Here are a few things your “yes” vote will and will not do:

  • Your “yes” vote will not have any effect on your current marriage or any of your future marriages.
  • Your “yes” vote will not protect your church’s right to refuse to host a religious ceremony for any couple for any number of reasons.
  • Your “yes” vote will not create better living conditions for any children in Minnesota.
  • Your “yes” vote will do nothing to curb the divorce rate or reduce domestic violence.
  • Your “yes” vote will not affect your existing employer benefits.
  • Your “yes” vote will not cause same-gender couples in committed relationships to separate.

Generally speaking, if you’re a straight person or part of an opposite-gender couple, your “yes” vote will have pretty much no effect on your life.

However, your “yes” vote will affect a number of lives in a big way. For example:

  • Your “yes” vote will ensure that the woman dying of breast cancer will have no access to the health benefits provided to her partner, the U.S. Postal Service letter carrier.
  • Your “yes” vote will ensure that the man with 20 years of military service who died in Afghanistan last week will leave no survivorship benefits for his life partner back here in the U.S. In spite of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits any military benefits be given to the partners of military personnel.
  • Your “yes” vote will ensure that the man waiting in the emergency room, whose partner of 40 years is dying of injuries sustained in an auto accident, not only has to worry about losing his life partner but also has to worry if medical personnel will allow him to make health care or end-of-life decisions.
  • Your “yes” vote will ensure that children of same-gender couples will know their family is somehow less than yours.

There’s a virtually unending list of things that could be done to strengthen marriage and families. Denying the right to marry to thousands of Minnesotans is just not one of them.

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Erickson lives in south Fargo with his partner David Hamilton. They were married in Canada in 2006.

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