'Minnesota can again lead the country on a civil rights issue'

'Minnesota can again lead the country on a civil rights issue'

Considering the Catholic church's full-court press for the marriage amendment, this is a courageous statement by faculty members at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict, in Collegeville.

The archbishop is going to be very, very unhappy.


Following is the text of a full-page ad that faculty at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University (central Minnesota) published Friday, October 26, 2012 in the schools’ newspaper, The Record. One hundred and forty-three faculty signed the statement which calls the proposed Minnesota 'marriage amendment' an "unjust attack on gay and lesbian people." Vincent M. Smiles, Professor of Theology, Andy Holey, Professor of Computer Science, and Michael Livingston, Professor of Psychology, are the principal authors/signers of the statement.




A Statement in Opposition to the

Minnesota Marriage Amendment

We, the undersigned, are members of the teaching faculty and staff of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. We regard the proposed Minnesota Marriage Amendment on the November 6 ballot as an unjust attack on gay and lesbian people and at variance with our community’s best traditions and values.

We speak only for ourselves – not for any departments or institutions. We respect the neutral position on the amendment that the administrations of our two colleges have taken. They rightly encourage careful study of the issue, and so do we. We also respect the right of our students and other citizens to make their own informed choices on how to vote.

We speak as educators who have studied numerous aspects of same-sex marriage. The backers of the proposed amendment claim that a "No" vote will damage marriage, violate religious liberty, endanger children and generally lead to moral decline in society. We dispute such claims.

Current Minnesota law does not provide for same-sex marriage, and a "No" vote on the proposed amendment would not make same-sex marriage legal. A "No" vote would simply allow for a thoughtful public conversation about when and how to guarantee equal protection of the law to same-sex couples. A "Yes" vote will permanently make them second-class citizens. We believe this is wrong.


The proposed amendment is inconsistent with the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states: "No state…shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Similarly, Minnesota’s constitution guarantees that "No member of this state shall be disenfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof." Though Minnesota law does not currently provide for same-sex marriage, the Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of sexual orientation. Passage of the proposed Marriage Amendment would be an ominous move in the opposite direction.

Both the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution guarantee religious liberty and separation of church and state. Laws permitting same-sex marriage would violate no one’s religious liberty. All churches would be free to perform or not perform marriages according to their own beliefs.

Differences in race or class were once taken as insurmountable obstacles to marriage, but today most people recognize that mutual love and respect are the foundations of married love. In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage because such laws denied "equal protection of the laws" to interracial couples. We believe that laws banning same-sex marriage are essentially no different from laws that once banned interracial marriages.

Though the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota are calling on Catholics to vote "Yes," there is, in fact, significant disagreement in the Catholic Church on same-sex marriage. Numerous theologians believe that the Bible cannot properly be invoked in support of a ban on same-sex marriage. Catholic faith defends the sanctity of individual conscience, and Catholics are not obligated to vote "Yes" on this amendment. Moreover, Catholic teaching alone cannot form the basis of civil law in a republic of many faiths and traditions.

According to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Catholic theologians must take into account "new sciences and theories," so that "morality may keep pace with scientific knowledge." (1)It is in light of this guidance that many theologians have allowed insights of psychology and sociology to inform their theology, and they have concluded that homosexuality is natural, and that same-sex unions are compatible with Catholic faith. Indeed, theologians long ago argued that pastors might appropriately bless same-sex unions. (2)

Quality empirical research has shown that children raised by same-sex couples have similar outcomes to children raised by heterosexual couples. The research has consistently demonstrated that children’s well-being is most directly related to the quality of parenting, not the gender or sexual orientation of the parents. (3)Research has also shown that discriminatory laws and attitudes are harmful to same-sex families and their children. So, while advocates for passing the Marriage Amendment claim it is needed to protect families and children, it would likely have the opposite impact on many families.

In states of the USA and in countries around the world where same-sex unions and marriages are legal marriage has not been destroyed. Men and women continue to marry and (sadly) to be divorced at approximately the same rate as in states and countries where same-sex unions and marriages are not permitted. There is no evidence in these places that same-sex unions and marriages have caused any moral decline in society.

Gay men and lesbians have long been suffering the sting of discrimination. Suicide among homosexual teenagers occurs at an alarming rate. The good news is that more and more people are recognizing that homosexuality is like left-handedness–in the minority, but perfectly natural. As in the days of the civil rights movement for African Americans, Minnesota can again lead the country on a civil rights issue, this time by being the first state to reject this kind of discriminatory amendment. We urge the citizens of Minnesota to do so.



Vincent Smiles, Theology

Andy Holey, Computer Science

Michael Livingston, Psychology

John Merkle, Theology

Tony Cunningham, Philosophy

Lisa Platt, Psychology

Lindsay Anderson, Nursing


Mike Ross, Chemistry

Janet Grochowski, Education

Rodger Narloch, Psychology

Henry Jakubowski, Chemistry

Janelle Hinchley, First Year Seminar & Gender Studies

James Poff, Biology

Phil Chu, Biology

Gordon Brown, Biology


Parker Wheatley, Economics

Carol Brash, Fine Arts

Karyl Daughters, Communication

Gladys White, Hispanic Studies

Ernest Diedrich, Economics

Bruce Campbell, Hispanic Studies

Ozzie Mayers, English

Stephen Stelzner, Psychology


Derek Larson, History & Environmental Studies

Brian Campbell, Music

Pam Bacon, Psychology

Linda Tennison, Psychology

Carol Jansky, Biology

Clayton Gearhart, Physics (emeritus)

Jonathon Carlson, Library

Ingrid Smiles, CSB Campus Ministry

David Wuolu, Library

Wendy Klepetar, Global Business Leadership

Benjamin Faber, Psychology

William Lamberts, Biology

Scott Richardson, Modern and Classical Languagues

Samuel Johnson, Fine Arts

Bruce Thornton, Music

Jessica O’Reilly, Sociology

Jessica Harkins, English

Sigrid Hedman-Dennis, Nursing

Thomas Sibley, Mathematics

Matt Callahan, English

Patricia Bolanos, Hispanic Studies & Gender Studies

Kathleen Costello, First Year Seminar

Erica Stonestreet, Philosophy

Allison Spenader, Education

Kelly Kraemer, Peace Studies

Jennifer Galovich, Mathematics

Bret Benesh, Mathematics

Matthew Harkins, English

Yuko Shibata, Modern and Classical Languages & Asian Studies

Luann Reif, Nursing

Maureen McCarter, Modern and Classical Languages

Janna LaFountaine, Exercise Science and Sports Studies

Carrie Braun, Nursing

Marcus Webster, Biology

Cynthia Curran, History

James Schnepf, Computer Science

Martha Tomhave Blauvelt, Gender Studies

Tess Kasling, Library

Karen Erickson, Modern and Classical Languages

David Malone, Library

Elizabeth Wurdak, Biology

Gary Prevost, Political Science

Juliann Heller, Theology

Susan Riley, History

Christi Siver, Political Science

Kathy Twohy, Nursing

Patricia Kennedy, Theology

Robert Hesse, Mathematics

Andrea Shaker, Fine Arts

John Miller, Computer Science

Elaine Rutherford, Fine Arts

Sarah Schaaf, Hispanic Studies

Manuel Campos, Biology

Luke Mancuso, English

Madhu Mitra, English

Charles Wright, Philosphy

Angela Erickson-Grussing, Hispanic Studies

David Mitchell, Biology

Jillian Hiscock, Admissions

Richard Bohannon, Environmental Studies

John Olson, Economics

Jacqueline Corral, Admissions

Joy Ruis, Office for Education Abroad

Sarah Pruett, ESC Coordinator

Eleonora Bertranou, Hispanic Studies

Jillian RIgg McKenzie, Admissions

Brooke Horejsi, Fine Arts Programing

Christina Shouse Tourino, English

Molly Ewing, Library

Edmund Sass, Education

Kaarin S. Johnston, Theater

Jeffrey Anderson, Peace Studies

Patricia Kent, Music

Tania Gomez, Hispanic Studies

Kathleen Parker, Library

Cindy Malone, English

Corey Shouse Tourino, Hispanic Studies

Shane Miller, Communication

Jean Keller, Philosophy

Rachelle Larson, Nursing

Nicholas Jones, Chemistry

Mark Mortrude, Education

Wendy Sterba, Modern and Classical Languages

Jean Ochu, Accounting and Finance

David Bennetts, History

Shannon Essler Petty, Education

Leigh Dillard, Theater

Diane Veale-Jones, Environmental Studies

Nelsy Echarvez-Solano, Hispanic Studies

Timothy Robinson, Philosophy

Matt Lindstrom, Political Science

Elena Sanchez Mora, Hispanic Studies

Jean Lavigne, Environmental Studies

Michael Opitz, English

Gregory Walker, Music

Jennifer Schaefer, Biology

Megan Vetsch, Fine Arts Programing

Angeline Dufner, English (Emeritus)

Joe Rogers, Global Education

Kenneth Jones, History

Janet Neuwirth, Nursing

Anna Mercedes, Theology

Bridget Sitzer, Admissions

Allan Bouley, Theology (Emeritus)

Michael Roske, Abby Woodworking

Peggy Roske, CSB/SJU Archives

Philip Kronebusch, Political Science

Peggy Retka, Office for Education Abroad

Kevin Knodl, Fine Arts Programing

Manju Parikh, Political Science

J. Scott Johnson, Political Science

Elisabeth Wengler, History

Roy Ketchum, Hispanic Studies

Stephen Wagner, Philosophy

Beth Pettitt, Biology

Lisa Drontle, Music

Julie Davis, History

Todd Johnson, Physics
Robert Kachelski, Psychology
Gregory Schroeder, History

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