Saturday, October 27, 2012

Why this Lutheran Pastor is voting NO and NO

For those of you who know me, the fact that I am voting NO twice in November does not come as any surprise.  I talk, breathe, and encourage love, equality, justice, and integrity, both as a child of God and as a citizen of these United States.  However, allow me to elaborate on both constitutional amendments that are on our ballots in November.

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"

Recently I attended an Issues Forum in order to learn more about this amendment.  I heard from the Vote YES and Vote NO sides.  Is it true that some folks who are not eligible to vote tried to vote in the last six years?  Yes, this is true.  Is the number significant?  No, it is not. 

Here is the rub that the legislation is trying to “fix” through this amendment measure:  very few people who are on probation for a felony, and therefore, not eligible to vote, have come to the polls to vote.  Most have never been told that they are not eligible to vote!  To me, this seems fixable through some education of probation officers and people on probation, as well as some shared information between the probation office and the voter registration office. 

Instead, our legislature has placed on the ballot a measure with no real plan of implementation!  We are asked to place into our constitution something that is not well define, will likely cost small voting districts a lot of money they do not have, and will (whether intentional or not) prevent eligible people (like the elderly, people in poverty, and victims of domestic violence) from casting their legal and legitimate vote. 

I will be voting NO because this measure is trying to put a body cast on something that simply needs a stitch or two.  Please, vote NO, and send this measure back to the legislature so it can be repaired more appropriately, with less money, and without discriminating against our fellow citizens.

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in Minnesota?”

For personal and professional reasons, I have been involved in the defeat of this amendment for a long time. Friends, there is already a law in MN that prevents same-gender couples from being married.  
  • I fail to understand the need for this hurtful information/definition to be placed in our constitution.  
  • I fail to understand how my relationship somehow threatens the relationships made between one man and one woman.  
  • I fail to understand anyone wanting to place a restriction of rights within a constitution full of the protection of rights. 

Beyond all those ideas, as a child of God, I long for the inclusion and love of our faith and of our God.  
  • When my siblings in Christ declare that the Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman, I must ask about the examples of King Solomon, Abraham, and Jacob (just to name a few) who had more than one wife, at the same time.  
  • When my siblings in Christ profess that the defeat of this bill will hurt the children of husbands and wives, I wonder about the children of same-gender couples (are these children any less precious?).  
  • When my siblings in Christ tell me that they want to save marriage for the heterosexual couples, and offer civil unions for the me ... I must ask, “when has 'separate but equal' ever worked in this country?”

“For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son, so that everyone who believes in Jesus may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Jesus.       John 3:16-17

Friends, I was born the way I am and nothing can change that for me or for you.  I am a part of the world God created, and no one can change this beautiful truth.  There is not any kind of exclusion in the world God redeems.  
  • You are a part of this world.  
  • I am a part of this world.  
  • My siblings voting for this amendment are a part of this world.  
  • And folks who will not vote at all are a part of this world.  
God’s love and salvation are for all people, without exception. 

I am voting NO because I believe in a God who loves all people, without exception, and I believe in a country and a state who, deep down, are not interested in limiting the freedom and responsibility that comes with loving another human being.  Please join me in voting NO, and stop this attempt to limit what love looks like in our state. 

Yes, I am voting NO twice on November 6th, and I hope and I pray that you will join me.

With you, for Christ,

Pastor Brenda