I have been blessed to be able to call Detroit Lakes home since 1999, when I began serving the Congregational United Church of Christ.
As a congregation, we strive to model a spiritual community of faith that continually works toward justice while seeking peace, healing and wholeness of life for all people. This is a faith we seek not only to believe, but also to live day to day. As election day nears, all Minnesotans are being called to think about the issues that face us on the November ballot. One of the most notable issues is the proposed marriage amendment.
As a pastor and married man I know the importance that marriage plays in society. It helps form the foundation of loving, committed relationships, provides for positive family structure, and supports healthy communities. This has been true in my own life. My wife Teresa and I were married in 1985, and through these many loving years we have had the joy of raising three wonderful children and growing in our faith together. These are the exact reasons so many loving, committed couples get married each year. They are the exact same reasons why same-sex couples want the freedom to marry, too.
I have come to this view through my faith, along with thousands of other Minnesotans who are voting NO because of their faith. I am opposed to this amendment because if passed it would mix religion and politics in our constitution. This amendment would tell clergy who they can and cannot marry in their congregations. Some churches and religious organizations want to recognize the relationships of committed gay and lesbian couples. Some don't. It should be their choice. However, this amendment does the opposite. It tells religious leaders they are not allowed to marry same-sex couples. Many faiths want to decide for themselves. This amendment represents a one-size fits all government mandate on our state's churches. The best thing is to allow religious leaders and churches to decide for themselves.
With the election only weeks away, I encourage everyone to have honest, ongoing, respectful conversations about this amendment. In having these conversations I'm convinced we will find that Minnesota should not limit the freedoms of our neighbors and family members, our co-workers and fellow church-members.
With love and compassion in my heart and on my mind, I know in November the good people of Minnesota will stand up and vote NO.
-- Rev. Mark Kuether, The Congregational United Church of Christ