Gay Marriage Ban Foes Air Ad, Backers Tout Clergy
The two major groups facing off on the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage tussled over religion Tuesday, as clergy including the state's top Catholic leader called for the amendment's passage while opponents prepared to air a TV commercial featuring a Catholic married couple.
The ad is the first from Minnesotans United for All Families, a coalition of gay rights groups, and is scheduled to start airing Tuesday night in the Twin Cities and Duluth. Spokeswoman Kate Brickman said the ad, which the campaign plans to eventually broadcast statewide, is the first salvo in a multimillion-dollar investment in a series of TV ads that will air continually until Election Day.
The amendment, if passed, would strengthen an existing gay marriage ban under state law by adding it to the state constitution. If it is defeated, gay marriage would still be illegal under state law.
But Minnesota for Marriage, comprised of religious and socially conservative groups, brought about 40 faith leaders to the Capitol on Tuesday to argue that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is important enough to put it permanently in the state's highest document.
Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis said the measure is "not intended to be hurtful or discriminatory to anyone." He said that humankind's understanding of marriage "predates any government, or in fact any religious denomination.
"It is not an attempt to force religious understanding of marriage on society," Nienstedt said. "As there can be only one truth about the human person, there cannot be one truth for believers and one truth for nonbelievers."
Nienstedt left quickly after the event, declining to answer questions from reporters. The archdiocese has been a chief financial backer of efforts to pass the amendment.
The event featured other Catholic priests, leaders of African-American and Hispanic congregations and Baptist, Pentecostal and Orthodox clergy.
But Minnesotans United has also made a huge push to organize religious leaders who are open to gay marriage.
"The fact is the religious community is divided on this," said the Rev. Grant Stevenson, a St. Paul Lutheran pastor who is organizing clergy for Minnesotans United. "Good people of good conscience can have different views on this issue."
That is demonstrated in the group's commercial, which features a married couple that is described as Catholic Republicans. The ad says John and Kim Canny, from the Minneapolis suburb of Savage, have been married for 13 years and have three children, and that their friendship with a lesbian couple in their neighborhood made them decide to vote against the amendment.
"Marriage is really important to me. I didn't really think a lot about same-sex marriage," John Canny says in the ad. But getting to know the gay couple, who have an adopted son, "taught all of us in our little suburban world," Kim Canny says.
Kim Canny told The Associated Press that she would urge fellow parents to realize that how they vote in November could have ramifications for their children in a decade or two.
"You know, some kids in the suburbs will grow up and they will be gay. And you're deciding now to close them off from the ability to marry who they love," she said.
Brickman said the commercials will principally feature Minnesotans from all walks of life talking about why they oppose the amendment.
Minnesota for Marriage has also reserved airtime for commercials that will start airing on Oct. 1; the group has not yet hinted at its own advertising strategy.
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