Proponents of gay marriage ban make last stand

Rings

With five days left of the regular legislative session religious conservatives are renewing a call on lawmakers to propose an amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriage.

The Minnesota Independent says the ban “appears stalled.” But activists on both sides of the issue are doing what they can to have their voice heard at the Capitol in the final days of this session.

On Monday, “dozens rallied in Duluth showing they support the right for everyone to get married” reports FOX21.

Time may be the biggest obstacle for activists trying to make a stand on gay marriage while Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers have, at this point, failed to reach agreement on the state budget.

State Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, who previous supported sending the issue to a public vote, hasn’t publicly stated his position on this proposal. “I’m really not in tune with the whole marriage amendment discussion and really don’t think we should be dealing with that right now,” he told the South Washington County Bulletin.

Gay marriage is already illegal in Minnesota, but conservative activists, who want to capitalize on the Republican majority in the legislature, want the ban included in the constitution so it would be more difficult to overturn should a more liberal group of lawmakers come to power in the next election cycle.

State Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, who is publicly opposed to the ban, received a letter from Rev. John Echert of Holy Trinity/Saint Augustine Parish in South St. Paul asking Kriesel to reconsider his position. The Minnesota Independent posted a portion of the exchange.

“I ask you to please reconsider your position on this critical matter. While we can legitimately debate issues related to finances and politics, those that are grounded upon basic moral principles and family values are rooted in the laws of God. I am commencing this week with a parish campaign to promote support for a Marriage Amendment in Minnesota” — Rev. John Echert in a letter to Rep. John Kriesel (R).

An aide to Kriesel replied:

“Mr. Echert,

I would like to respectfully remind you that the Internal Revenue Service frowns upon churches and religious organizations devoting time to influencing legislation. Your admission of the commencement of a politically involved “campaign” will probably violate several state and federal tax provisions.”

That didn’t sit well with the Rev. Echert who says he has the right and authority to speak out on the moral issues facing our society. Winona Daily News editor Darrell Ehrlick wrote a commentary calling the church’s approach to the ban a series of “missteps” that could help offset the state budget deficit.

Let Catholic Church leaders admit just what Father Echert did: They’re launching an all-out political campaign. Granted, if the Catholic Church admitted that what it’s doing jeopardizes its nonprofit status, it would be subject to taxes. Lots of ’em.

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