Like other states, Minnesota is fast-tracking a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, despite already having a gay marriage ban on the books. I suppose they fear the law being declared unconstitutional and think that adding an amendment to the constitution with the definition will somehow immunize them from that.
The only good to come from this effort was the speech on the video above. Steve Simon, speaking in a measured, reasonable tone, made a wonderful argument for gay marriage by turning the argument against it right back around on the bill's proponents by arguing that if their sexuality is a gift from God, as clergy argues, then how many times does God have to bestow the gift of gay on someone before the rest of us get a clue? Between his delivery and his argument, it was magnificent.
SIMON: We have to be careful about trying to enshrine our beliefs, however religiously valid we may believe them to be, in the Minnesota constitution. And what I'm hearing today and what I heard on Friday was largely a religious justification for a change in the Minnesota constitution. I don't think that's right, I don't think that's fair, I think it departs from our tradition.
The other thing, which I know makes some people squirm but I think we have to discuss it, both during an election campaign but here at the legislature too, is how much of homosexuality is nature versus nurture. Is this something that you learn or acquire or is this something that you're born with? Is this just another lifestyle choice like skateboarding or gardening, or is this something that's innate with a human being.
And I want to take a page from what I heard last Friday in the Senate testimony. There was a member of the clergy, I think -- forgive me, I can't remember his name -- and he said, "You know what? Sexuality and sexual orientation are a gift from God." And I think that's true. And I think that scientific evidence shows that more and more every day. Sexuality and sexual orientation are innate, and something that people are born with.
And I would ask everyone on this committee -- not today, not tomorrow, not next week, not even this year -- but at a moment when you can be alone with your own thoughts to ask yourself if that's true, if it's even possibly true, what does that mean to the moral force of your argument? Just ask yourself. Not now, in the glare of the capitol and caucuses and interest groups, but ask yourself if it's true that sexual orientation is innate, God-given, then what does it mean to the moral force of your argument?
And I guess to put it into the vernacular, that what I would ask is how many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether or not God actually wants them around? [applause]
CHAIR: Please keep applause to yourselves.
SIMON: How many gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether the living of their lives the way they wish as long as they don't harm others is a godly and holy and happy and glorious thing?
I've answered that for myself. I don't think everyone's answered that for themselves, necessarily in this room. But I'm comfortable with a society and a tradition that bends towards justice, and fairness, and wholeness, and openness, and compassion. And I do think, as others who have come before me have said more eloquently that that's where the arc of history is bending as well.
And I truly believe that in a generation, or maybe not even a generation, but certainly many generations from now, if we pass this, if we put it on the ballot, if this becomes part of our constitution, history will judge us all very, very harshly. And I think that the people who vote for this today and in the future -- although their children and grandchildren should be very proud of them for their service to the state of Minnesota -- will on this issue, not be so proud.
And there may even be some justifiable shame there as well, and I think that's something that we all have to think about and justify in our own consciences. So I strongly urge a no vote.