Gay marriage may be right; it’s also a bit tricky

Last fall, Minnesota voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. In the same election, Democrats won control of the state Legislature, ousting Republicans who proposed the amendment. Democrats now have the opposite thought in mind: They plan to vote this week on legalizing gay marriage, something that seems to have the necessary support in the House, Senate and governor’s office.

We opposed the constitutional amendment last fall. There are gay couples all over Minnesota who just want to enjoy the same rights and privileges of straight couples, from legal rights, to workplace benefits, to hospital visitation rights, to their filing of taxes. They would also like to be recognized as couples in the eyes of their fellow citizens. All of that seems appropriate.

There are some issues yet to be resolved, however.

If it is discriminatory to ban same-sex marriage, then it is just as discriminatory to ban multi-partner “marriages” or other arrangements. The logic is inevitable: What’s so special about monogamy, just because that is the path most people choose? A cultural bias does not equate to a valid argument.

The other major issue, as we see it, will involve health care and other benefits, and whether the state, local units of government and businesses can afford to pay them as more and more people claim them. There is the related question of whether business owners or other institutions (i.e. churches) should be forced to act against their convictions, recognize gay marriage and provide such benefits. It seems to us that the entitlement argument should not trump the private property rights of businesses, churches or other private institutions.