Marriage amendment debate divides Lake CountyLake County residents who strongly support or oppose the proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage are already busy campaigning.
By: Sonja Peterson, Lake County News Chronicle
With heat waves hitting the North Shore and summer festivals filling up the calendar, November elections might seem a long time away to many Lake County residents. But those who strongly support or oppose the proposed Minnesota constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage are already busy campaigning.
The official campaign in support of the amendment is Minnesota for Marriage. The group will have a booth at the Lake County Fair in August.
Larry Groothausen of Two Harbors is a volunteer for Minnesota for Marriage and is in charge of the booth. He said he is reaching out to churches in the area to find others who want to get involved with the campaign in support of the amendment.
“Marriage has been between a man and a woman since time began,” Groothausen said. He said he doesn’t have anything against same-sex couples but that he doesn’t believe their relationship can be considered a marriage.
Groothausen said he believes that defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman would help ensure that children are brought up in the best possible environment. “It’s for the common good of society,” he said.
Local volunteers for Minnesotans United for All Families, the official campaign working to defeat the amendment, had a booth at Heritage Days and a float in the Bay Days parade.
“We got an awful lot of support at Heritage Days from people who are also against amending the constitution,” Volunteer Sue Hilliard said. They also plan to spread the word through phone banking as November draws nearer.
James Manahan of Silver Bay participated in campaigning against the amendment at Bay Days and Heritage Days. He sees the amendment as a threat to civil liberties and freedom.
Kate Brickman, commuications director for Minnesotans United for All Families, agreed.
“Usually, people think of the constitution as something that protects people’s freedoms,” Brickman said. “This is really the first time we’ve seen it used to single out a class of people and exclude them from the same freedoms as everyone else.”
Religious groups in Lake County have members on both sides of the amendment campaigns. Father Michael Lyons of Holy Spirit Catholic Church says that the church’s official stance, and his personal stance, is in support of the amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In 2011, the Diocese of Duluth, which includes Lake County, donated $50,000 to the Minnesota Catholic Conference in support of the amendment.
“I’m very much in support of the amendment,” Lyons said. He said he couldn’t, however, speak for every individual in his congregation.
The Northeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church passed a resolution opposing the amendment this April. Bethlehem Lutheran Church is one of several local churches that are members of the synod. But Bethlehem’s interim pastor Mark Hillmer said that despite the official resolution, there are still disputes among individual members and congregations in the ELCA.
“What I can say is that all congregations have been affected by this issue,” Hillmer said.