Saturday, October 27, 2012

143 Faculty of the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University Sign Statement Opposing MN 'Marriage Amendment'

Following is the text of a full-page ad that faculty at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University (central Minnesota) published Friday, October 26, 2012 in the schools’ newspaper, The Record. One hundred and forty-three faculty signed the statement which calls the proposed Minnesota 'marriage amendment' an "unjust attack on gay and lesbian people." Vincent M. Smiles, Professor of Theology, Andy Holey, Professor of Computer Science, and Michael Livingston, Professor of Psychology, are the principal authors/signers of the statement.


A Statement in Opposition to the
Minnesota Marriage Amendment

We, the undersigned, are members of the teaching faculty and staff of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. We regard the proposed Minnesota Marriage Amendment on the November 6 ballot as an unjust attack on gay and lesbian people and at variance with our community’s best traditions and values.

We speak only for ourselves – not for any departments or institutions. We respect the neutral position on the amendment that the administrations of our two colleges have taken. They rightly encourage careful study of the issue, and so do we. We also respect the right of our students and other citizens to make their own informed choices on how to vote.
We speak as educators who have studied numerous aspects of same-sex marriage. The backers of the proposed amendment claim that a “No” vote will damage marriage, violate religious liberty, endanger children and generally lead to moral decline in society. We dispute such claims.

Current Minnesota law does not provide for same-sex marriage, and a “No” vote on the proposed amendment would not make same-sex marriage legal. A “No” vote would simply allow for a thoughtful public conversation about when and how to guarantee equal protection of the law to same-sex couples. A “Yes” vote will permanently make them second-class citizens. We believe this is wrong.

The proposed amendment is inconsistent with the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states: “No state…shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Similarly, Minnesota’s constitution guarantees that “No member of this state shall be disenfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof.” Though Minnesota law does not currently provide for same-sex marriage, the Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of sexual orientation. Passage of the proposed Marriage Amendment would be an ominous move in the opposite direction.

Both the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution guarantee religious liberty and separation of church and state. Laws permitting same-sex marriage would violate no one’s religious liberty. All churches would be free to perform or not perform marriages according to their own beliefs.

Differences in race or class were once taken as insurmountable obstacles to marriage, but today most people recognize that mutual love and respect are the foundations of married love. In 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage because such laws denied “equal protection of the laws” to interracial couples. We believe that laws banning same-sex marriage are essentially no different from laws that once banned interracial marriages.

Though the Catholic Bishops of Minnesota are calling on Catholics to vote “Yes,” there is, in fact, significant disagreement in the Catholic Church on same-sex marriage. Numerous theologians believe that the Bible cannot properly be invoked in support of a ban on same-sex marriage. Catholic faith defends the sanctity of individual conscience, and Catholics are not obligated to vote “Yes” on this amendment. Moreover, Catholic teaching alone cannot form the basis of civil law in a republic of many faiths and traditions.

According to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), Catholic theologians must take into account “new sciences and theories,” so that “morality may keep pace with scientific knowledge.” (1) It is in light of this guidance that many theologians have allowed insights of psychology and sociology to inform their theology, and they have concluded that homosexuality is natural, and that same-sex unions are compatible with Catholic faith. Indeed, theologians long ago argued that pastors might appropriately bless same-sex unions. (2)

Quality empirical research has shown that children raised by same-sex couples have similar outcomes to children raised by heterosexual couples. The research has consistently demonstrated that children’s well-being is most directly related to the quality of parenting, not the gender or sexual orientation of the parents. (3) Research has also shown that discriminatory laws and attitudes are harmful to same-sex families and their children. So, while advocates for passing the Marriage Amendment claim it is needed to protect families and children, it would likely have the opposite impact on many families.

In states of the USA and in countries around the world where same-sex unions and marriages are legal marriage has not been destroyed. Men and women continue to marry and (sadly) to be divorced at approximately the same rate as in states and countries where same-sex unions and marriages are not permitted. There is no evidence in these places that same-sex unions and marriages have caused any moral decline in society.

Gay men and lesbians have long been suffering the sting of discrimination. Suicide among homosexual teenagers occurs at an alarming rate. The good news is that more and more people are recognizing that homosexuality is like left-handedness–in the minority, but perfectly natural. As in the days of the civil rights movement for African Americans, Minnesota can again lead the country on a civil rights issue, this time by being the first state to reject this kind of discriminatory amendment. We urge the citizens of Minnesota to do so.

Vincent Smiles, Theology
Andy Holey, Computer Science
Michael Livingston, Psychology
John Merkle, Theology
Tony Cunningham, Philosophy
Lisa Platt, Psychology
Lindsay Anderson, Nursing
Mike Ross, Chemistry
Janet Grochowski, Education
Rodger Narloch, Psychology
Henry Jakubowski, Chemistry
Janelle Hinchley, First Year Seminar & Gender Studies
James Poff, Biology
Phil Chu, Biology
Gordon Brown, Biology
Parker Wheatley, Economics
Carol Brash, Fine Arts
Karyl Daughters, Communication
Gladys White, Hispanic Studies
Ernest Diedrich, Economics
Bruce Campbell, Hispanic Studies
Ozzie Mayers, English
Stephen Stelzner, Psychology
Derek Larson, History & Environmental Studies
Brian Campbell, Music
Pam Bacon, Psychology
Linda Tennison, Psychology
Carol Jansky, Biology
Clayton Gearhart, Physics (emeritus)
Jonathon Carlson, Library
Ingrid Smiles, CSB Campus Ministry
David Wuolu, Library
Wendy Klepetar, Global Business Leadership
Benjamin Faber, Psychology
William Lamberts, Biology
Scott Richardson, Modern and Classical Languagues
Samuel Johnson, Fine Arts
Bruce Thornton, Music
Jessica O’Reilly, Sociology
Jessica Harkins, English
Sigrid Hedman-Dennis, Nursing
Thomas Sibley, Mathematics
Matt Callahan, English
Patricia Bolanos, Hispanic Studies & Gender Studies
Kathleen Costello, First Year Seminar
Erica Stonestreet, Philosophy
Allison Spenader, Education
Kelly Kraemer, Peace Studies
Jennifer Galovich, Mathematics
Bret Benesh, Mathematics
Matthew Harkins, English
Yuko Shibata, Modern and Classical Languages & Asian Studies
Luann Reif, Nursing
Maureen McCarter, Modern and Classical Languages
Janna LaFountaine, Exercise Science and Sports Studies
Carrie Braun, Nursing
Marcus Webster, Biology
Cynthia Curran, History
James Schnepf, Computer Science
Martha Tomhave Blauvelt, Gender Studies
Tess Kasling, Library
Karen Erickson, Modern and Classical Languages
David Malone, Library
Elizabeth Wurdak, Biology
Gary Prevost, Political Science
Juliann Heller, Theology
Susan Riley, History
Christi Siver, Political Science
Kathy Twohy, Nursing
Patricia Kennedy, Theology
Robert Hesse, Mathematics
Andrea Shaker, Fine Arts
John Miller, Computer Science
Elaine Rutherford, Fine Arts
Sarah Schaaf, Hispanic Studies
Manuel Campos, Biology
Luke Mancuso, English
Madhu Mitra, English
Charles Wright, Philosphy
Angela Erickson-Grussing, Hispanic Studies
David Mitchell, Biology
Jillian Hiscock, Admissions
Richard Bohannon, Environmental Studies
John Olson, Economics
Jacqueline Corral, Admissions
Joy Ruis, Office for Education Abroad
Sarah Pruett, ESC Coordinator
Eleonora Bertranou, Hispanic Studies
Jillian RIgg McKenzie, Admissions
Brooke Horejsi, Fine Arts Programing
Christina Shouse Tourino, English
Molly Ewing, Library
Edmund Sass, Education
Kaarin S. Johnston, Theater
Jeffrey Anderson, Peace Studies
Patricia Kent, Music
Tania Gomez, Hispanic Studies
Kathleen Parker, Library
Cindy Malone, English
Corey Shouse Tourino, Hispanic Studies
Shane Miller, Communication
Jean Keller, Philosophy
Rachelle Larson, Nursing
Nicholas Jones, Chemistry
Mark Mortrude, Education
Wendy Sterba, Modern and Classical Languages
Jean Ochu, Accounting and Finance
David Bennetts, History
Shannon Essler Petty, Education
Leigh Dillard, Theater
Diane Veale-Jones, Environmental Studies
Nelsy Echarvez-Solano, Hispanic Studies
Timothy Robinson, Philosophy
Matt Lindstrom, Political Science
Elena Sanchez Mora, Hispanic Studies
Jean Lavigne, Environmental Studies
Michael Opitz, English
Gregory Walker, Music
Jennifer Schaefer, Biology
Megan Vetsch, Fine Arts Programing
Angeline Dufner, English (Emeritus)
Joe Rogers, Global Education
Kenneth Jones, History
Janet Neuwirth, Nursing
Anna Mercedes, Theology
Bridget Sitzer, Admissions
Allan Bouley, Theology (Emeritus)
Michael Roske, Abby Woodworking
Peggy Roske, CSB/SJU Archives
Philip Kronebusch, Political Science
Peggy Retka, Office for Education Abroad
Kevin Knodl, Fine Arts Programing
Manju Parikh, Political Science
J. Scott Johnson, Political Science
Elisabeth Wengler, History
Roy Ketchum, Hispanic Studies
Stephen Wagner, Philosophy
Beth Pettitt, Biology
Lisa Drontle, Music
Julie Davis, History
Todd Johnson, Physics
Robert Kachelski, Psychology
Gregory Schroeder, History

(1) "The Church in the Modern World," #62.
(2) A. Kosnik et al., Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought, a Study Commissioned by the Catholic Theological Society of America (Paulist Press, 1977) 215-16.
(3) The American Psychological Association's "Resolution on Sexual Orientation, Parents, and Children" (adopted July 28 and 30, 2004) can be found here.


  1. How can these so called academics not moved past stage ONE thinking on this issue.
    Maybe this will help the signers think more deeply

    Our Catholic Universities are in real trouble!
    Luke 17:2

  2. I have a son with same sex attractions. I have no doubt that the desires written on his heart are by design from God. He is a great gift to his parents, the Church and the community. I weep that as a society we are reducing the answer to his desires into a heterosexual paradigm of marriage. I pray that his full humanity can be celebrated and true happiness realized through following reality in a true manner.
    Both those in support and opposed to the Marriage Amendment, likely have the same shared goals they are trying to ensure the opportunity for love, happiness, justice, beauty and truth in living. What is the answer to these deepest longings of the heart? How can society support each individual in discovering the answer to these questions?