Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Minn. Rep Sums Up Marriage Equality With One Simple Question

"How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around?"
Rep. Steve Simon, a Democratic lawmaker in Minnesota, spoke out Monday against a GOP-backed constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage, and asked the brilliant rhetorical question above, which elegantly crystallizes the issue and should become a national battle cry for marriage equality. Simon's heroic words are straightforward and simple enough to comprehend even for simple-minded zealots who continue to use God against gays.

His full statement—along with the must-see video—are after the jump. Here are more highlights...

A member of the clergy said, "Sexuality and sexual orientation are a gift from God." I think that's true. And I think scientific evidence shows more every day that sexuality and sexual orientation are something people are born with. I ask everyone on this committee to ask yourself, if that's even possibly true, what does that mean to the moral force of your argument? 

How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether living their lives the way they wish, as long as they don't harm others, is a godly and holy and happy and glorious thing?

Sadly, despite Simon's brave and frank words, the amendment to allow voters to ban same-sex marriage was approved on a 10 to 7 party-line vote. Baby steps... baby steps...

Watch the compelling video of Rep. Simon's testimony here and below.

Following is the full text...

We have to be careful about trying to enshrine our beliefs, however religiously valid we may believe them to be, in the Minnesota constitution—and what I'm hearing today, and what I heard on Friday, was largely a religious justification for change in the Minnesota constitution. I don't think that's right; I don't think it's fair; I think it departs from our tradition.

The other thing, which I know makes some people squirm, but I think we have to discuss it, both during an election campaign but here at the legislature, too, is how much of homosexuality is nature versus nurture. Is this something that you learn or acquire, or is this something that you're born with? Is this just another lifestyle choice, like skateboarding or gardening, or is this something that's innate within a human being?

And I want to take a page from what I heard last Friday in the Senate testimony; there was a member of the clergy—forgive me, I can't remember his name—and he said, "You know what? Sexuality and sexual orientation are a gift from God." And I think that's true. And I think the scientific evidence shows more and more every day that sexuality and sexual orientation are innate, and something that people are born with.

And I would ask everyone on this committee—not today, not tomorrow, not next week, not even this year, but at a moment when you can be alone with your own thoughts—to ask yourself, if that's true, if it's even possibly true, what does that mean to the moral force of your argument? Just ask yourself—not now, in the glare of the Capitol and caucuses and interest groups—but ask yourself, if it's true that sexual orientation is innate, God-given, then what does it mean to the moral force of your argument?

And I guess, to put it in the vernacular, what I would ask is: How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around? How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether the living of their lives the way they wish, as long as they don't harm others, is a godly and holy and happy and glorious thing?

I've answered that for myself. I don't think everyone's answered that for themselves, necessarily, in this room. But I'm comfortable with a society and a tradition that bends towards justice and fairness and wholeness and openness and compassion. And I do think, as others have said before me more eloquently, that that's where the arc of history is bending as well—and I truly believe that, in a generation, maybe not even a generation, but certainly many generations from now, if we pass this, if we put it on the ballot, if this becomes part of our constitution, history will judge us all very, very harshly.

And I think that the people who vote for this today, in the future, will, although their children and grandchildren will and should be very proud of them for their service to the state of Minnesota, will, on this issue, not be so proud—and there may even be some justifiable shame there as well. And I think that's something that we all have to think about and justify in our own consciousness. So I strongly urge a no vote.