Now that the Legislature has endeavored to let the people vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage, I suggest a few ground rules to ensure a fair and open exchange of views.
First, we must reject the name-calling that has marred the debate to this point. Same-sex-marriage supporters' constant mantra has been that Minnesotans who support one man-one woman marriage are motivated by bigotry. Gay-marriage proponents make this claim even about people who merely support letting Minnesotans vote on the issue.
The Star Tribune's recent editorial on the marriage amendment was typical. "Don't put bigotry on the ballot," its headline ran.But people who support one man-one woman marriage are not bigots. They argue, very reasonably, that marriage is rooted in nature -- in male/female sexual complementarity -- and that children need both a mother and a father. They say that's why it has been the bedrock institution of procreation and social order in virtually all times and places.
Same-sex-marriage supporters' attempt to tar this view as "bigotry" seems designed to shield them from tough questions as they campaign to redefine the world's fundamental social institution. Labeling your opponent a "bigot" is the ultimate rhetorical mudball--a classic slur intended to silence and intimidate rather than to facilitate an exchange of ideas.