Minnesota Orthodox Clergy Stand for Traditional Marriage

I can see the Minneapolis Star Tribune has not changed much and manages, as always, to couch their bias in the basest sentimentality. One day there might be a class in Journalism School called “The Oprahization of Print Media” and the Star Tribune would be Exhibit A.

I grew up in Minneapolis so I learned how to sift the wheat from the chaff, a skill many conservative Minnesotans acquire in a one newspaper town. I notice that the paper tries to strike a balance between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ forces. That means the ‘yes’ side is stronger and has a much broader reach than the Star Tribune lets on.

Orthodox clergy joined the Catholics and others to secure that legal definition.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Baird Helgeson | September 19, 2012

Both sides in marriage fight appeal to faithful

The two sides slugging it out over the marriage amendment took their battle to the pews Tuesday, with both sides making bold, public pleas to people of faith.

Minnesotans United for All Families took direct aim at the Catholic Church’s support of the amendment, with a kickoff television ad featuring a Catholic couple urging Minnesotans to reject the measure. At the same time, Twin Cities Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt joined about 40 other faith leaders at the Capitol to encourage support for the marriage amendment.

The two events signal a new phase of a campaign that already is among the most expensive and contentious of the state’s election season.

Both campaigns have been working for months to build coalitions in places of worship, among business leaders and through public rallies. The duel of the TV ad and high-profile media event on the Capitol steps takes the discussion into homes statewide, giving advocates a chance to speak to voters who might have ignored early season efforts.

Minnesotans United for All Families’ first ad features a Catholic couple from Savage who say their position on same-sex marriage has evolved and that they now oppose the measure.

“We know that for Minnesotans to vote no on Election Day we need to encourage them to have conversations and take a journey that many other people in the state and country have taken about gay and lesbian freedom to marry,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United. “We need to show Minnesotans how to go from conflicted or concerned to a ‘no’ vote.”

Nienstedt, in a rare public declaration on the issue, offered a brief statement: “I ask all Minnesotans to join us to vote yes on November 6th. … This is a wonderful sight, to see clergy from … so many different churches come together and show their support for our basic understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.” Nienstedt took no questions and left after reading the statement.

Minnesota for Marriage, the lead group pushing the measure, is scheduled to air its first TV ad Oct. 1. The ads will lay out why the group believes the institution of marriage is worth preserving, what it sees as the threat to marriage and what is at stake should it be redefined.

‘Ours to win’

Frank Schubert, the California-based political strategist running Minnesota for Marriage, said the other side has been having conversations for nearly two years yet still acknowledges in public that they would lose if the election were held today.

“What are they going to say in the final seven weeks that they haven’t said the last 18 months?” Schubert asked. “The answer is nothing. This election is ours to win.”

Marriage amendment supporters in others states have funneled much of their money into a last-minute barrage of emotional and successful television advertisements — many created by Schubert. The ads have warned that without the measure, students could be taught about same-sex marriage in elementary schools.

Minnesotans United has spent months dissecting Schubert’s strategy and ads in other states. Carlbom said they are bracing for “the most divisive and hurtful ads ever in the state” and are preparing to push back strongly on the airwaves should those ads surface.

Minnesota law already outlaws same-sex marriage, but supporters argue the measure is necessary to prevent judges or future legislatures from changing the law. Like in other states that have dealt with the issue, marriage amendment supporters are trailing in fundraising, but many polls show the measure barely passing or close to it.

Carlbom vowed that with this first ad, the group will remain on the air across Minnesota through Election Day. Fretting over an expected late blitz from the other side, Minnesotans United has already locked in $1.3 million of airtime for the last week of the campaign. That’s in addition to nearly $500,000 they are spending on their first ad.

That 30-second spot features John and Kim Canny, lifelong Republicans and Catholics, who talk about how their position on marriage evolved as the couple spent 13 years raising their children in Savage.

When a gay couple moved into their neighborhood with an adopted son, the Cannys say in the ad, they realized same-sex couples want to marry to make a lifetime commitment based on love and responsibility — the same reasons that drove the Cannys to take their wedding vows. The Canny family “had some good discussions,” John Canny said. “In our daughter’s world, her normal is so much different than ours. It didn’t faze her at all.”

The ad ends with Kim Canny encouraging Minnesotans to continue wrestling with the issue. “And when you do,” John Canny chimes in, “vote no.”

The ad is not the first of the marriage amendment fight. A month ago, Freedom to Marry, a national group pushing for states to approve same-sex marriage, launched TV ads featuring Yvonne and Fred Peterson of Duluth. The couple discussed their 59-year marriage and how they came to support same-sex marriage after learning their grandson is gay.

‘Essential public purpose’

Religious leaders at the Capitol on Tuesday urged residents thinking about the amendment to consult the Bible, not pop culture or shifting societal norms.

“This gift of marriage is given to us by God to create a loving and secure bond between husband and wife, where they can share the deepest emotions and the most joyful pleasures of physical intimacy,” said Carl Nelson, president of Transform Minnesota, a network of nearly 160 evangelical churches in Minnesota. “Marriage bonds a mother and father to any children that may be born to their union and creates a stable and loving family. This is the essential public purpose of marriage and the reason why we support the marriage amendment.”

Schubert was in a Twin Cities hotel room Tuesday putting the finishing touches on his plan for the final weeks of the campaign when the other side released its ad. Amendment opponents’ ads miss the point, said Schubert — that marriage is a unique relationship between a man and a woman.

“It is not something you leave to children based on their norm, and it is not something you change because you have nice gay neighbors,” Schubert said. “Almost all of them are wonderful people who deserve to be loved and respected. But we don’t need to redefine marriage to respect our gay and lesbian neighbors.”


  1. “I can see the Minneapolis Star Tribune has not changed much and manages, as always, to couch their bias in the basest sentimentality”

    Sentimentality is generally characterized by an appeal to emotion in a way that would be disproportionate to what the situation merits, sometimes in an extreme manner that borders on satire.

    Is that what you see here? If so, who is displaying that? Looks like both sides to me.

    ““This gift of marriage is given to us by God to create a loving and secure bond between husband and wife, where they can share the deepest emotions and the most joyful pleasures of physical intimacy”.

    “Deepest emotions?” St Paul said that it is better to marry than to burn, and that he preferred believers remain as he was (single). Nowhere does he promise a “sharing of deepest emotions” or a “most joyful” intimacy. Marry or remain celibate … or go to hell because of fornication/remarriage/homosexuality. Emotions have little to do with the matter.

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Yes, that’s a lame definition of marriage, I’ll grant that. But I had in mind the example of the family in Savage (yup, that’s a real town, right next to Shakopee — I rode my bike there once when I was 13 or so to swim in the “clay hole”, an old limestone pit since filled with water that had ‘cliffs’ you could jump from, cool stuff for a 13 year old; it took three hours to get there and four to get back) as if the experience of one gay family sums up the entire question.

    • By the way, the problem is not emotions, per se. Rather, it is the notion that marriage is primarily a construct to satisfy emotional needs, and Transform Minnesota’s appeal to this notion does not bode well (even if it is directed towards heterosexual couples).

      This is why opposing gay marriage is becoming a less coherent position to the general public. If marriage is about “personal satisfaction”, why oppose civil contracts to gay couples when it doesn’t harm anyone in a materially tangible way?

      We’ve lost the notion that marriage is — first and foremost — a religious duty and that spouses should be chosen with the same sense of level-headedness, calculation and even emotionlessness that one might have when picking out a residence or career. Chemistry and emotion are ephemeral and unreliable … they change with the wind. They’re certainly not a reasonable mechanism for dictating whom one should marry.

      Good luck trying to convince the culture at large of this, however.

      • Tomas, while I agree with much of what you say, I have to add that it is important to realize that marriage is also about joy rather than happiness. Joy is a transcendent gift of God, a unmerited grace. It is far beyond happiness.

        The conjugal union that is founded upon love of God first is not free from emotion, nor is it entirely rational or sober. It is liberating in that it is kenotic in all of its aspects. It helps each partner to know themselves.

        Most of all it is the foundation for raising children and providing children with both a mother, a father and initial knowledge of God.

        Homosexual marriage is a possibility because Christians and the Church have failed dismally in living real marriage. We have allowed our own passions to destroy the reality of marriage for many. While the fight must proceed, I am afraid it is a bit like a small group of bleeding but faithful knights trying to defend a castle that is already mostly demolished by betrayed by the lords and other inhabitants of the castle.

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse :


        I’m no so sure either that opposing gay marriage is becoming a “less coherent” position to the general public. Yes, it seems that way if you listen to the media but whenever the issue is brought to the voters, gay marriage is roundly defeated. It even lost in California.

        You are right though about marriage and religious duty. The collapse of cultural arrangements is due to the increasing secularism in the culture, a tautology really because secularism is that collapse.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Fr, that reminds me of a movie from about 30 years ago. I can’t remember the name of it but it had to do something with bicycling and it took place in Indiana.

      • George, I believe the movie was Breaking Away.

        • It’s worth a watch. It uses the beginning of Mendelssohn’s “Italian Symphony” in the biking scenes. And here’s a classic line from the protagonist’s father, who is suspicious of his son’s excursions into other cultures: “I don’t want any more foreign food! I want American food. I want French fries!”

  3. I am not aware of the legal process in Minnesota, but in California we have a “Proposition” system whereby any citizen (or group of citizens) who gathers together the required number of signatures of registered voters can be placed on the statewide ballot to become law (e.g. medical marijuana and the “3 strikes” for convicted felons laws were both passed by Prop). It costs the state millions to validate & certify signatures, explain each proposition in the “Voter’s Guide,” and fairly describe them on the ballot. Because they are so desperate for signatures, they actually pay solicitors, thereby making a trip to the grocery an exercise in navigating through people with clipboards calling out, “Are you a registered voter?” until you have passed the grocery store signs that read, “We do not support solicitors,” while CA law apparently does.

    On the 2008 ballot as Proposition 8, “The Defense of Marriage Act,” it is said to be responsible for the largest voter turnout in CA history (78%) and passed with 52% of the vote. Immediately, any number of groups were filing suits in CA Supreme Court that the now law was unconstitutional. Long story short, it was overturned in CA, upheld by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, and after more actions in the lower courts, on June 5, 2012 the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals refused to “revisit” their ruling, leaving the US Supreme Court as the last court of appeal. On July 31, 2012, it was submitted for consideration.

    The point of this cynical diatribe? We have reached a point where interest groups will calculate access to the courts (and in an objective sense, it was fascinating to read of the process of selecting the “test couple” to sue CA for discrimination as “average,” middle-class, American-dream seeking, “churchly” valued people) to nullify voter results pursuant to the law. Is it possible that policy concerning the greatest moral issues of our time will be determined by a combination of nine men and women who have, historically, tended to split evenly, and in effect be decided by a single vote?

  4. I have had the chance to peruse some of the newer articles on this site simultaneously shaking my head at the moral cowardice of our hierarchs who think that every Sunday is Palm Sunday with their hands out, demanding more donations. I strongly feel that our leadership has resembled something very closely to the pharisees in the New Testament. This toilet of a world is swirling down the bowl faster than one can blink an eye, yet they are more concerned about beard lengths, altar girls, and other silly externals. I am parched for great fiery Sunday sermons that address the issues and heighten moral and social awareness. So, tomorrow I will be attending a non-denominational Bible church with great biblical unapologetic preaching and where poor blue collar people of various ethnicites are fired up for the Lord. Enough of the Orthodox nonsense and nominalism.

    • alyosha, a preaching which will likely be filled with a great deal of heresy and personalism that essentially denies the Incarnation and the ability to actually commune with Jesus Christ. That same reality that is/was available to you every Sunday despite the moral and pastoral failings of our priests and bishops. It is a bad bargin.

      If you want strong Biblical preaching and it is not in your parish, you can find it in the Church nonetheless. Read St. John Chrysostom and the other Fathers for instance. Respectfully and lovingly challenge your priest to improve the content of his sermons. Podcasts from Ancient Faith Radio are a good source as is Fr. Stephan Freeman’s blog Glory to God for All Things http://glory2godforallthings.com/

      Don’t be passive. Put your own understanding of Biblical principals into action locally. The Orthodox praxis of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, worship, repentance and forgiveness is the Traditional understanding of the Biblical life. While some twist that practice into “pray, pay and obey” that does not lessen its power to transform if entered into with an open heart submitting to God’s love.

      And remember, the Bible taken out of context of the Church becomes an idol.

      • Thank you, Michael, for that necessary wakeup via verbal slap. You’re right, and I was frustrated.

        • We are all frustrated. Whenever I’ve been tempted to go down the street I remember the example of the Cappadocian Fathers and St Athanasius (among many) who never preceived of the possibility of going down the street depspite the fact that the Arian heresy had taken such hold of so many (most?) in the Church. It is a lessen worth remembering and I said it as much for myself as for you. You had the ears to hear and may many graces flow to you from your hearing.


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