Op-Ed: Yes, protect marriage. Let same-sex couples wed.

As posted by Dale Carpenter on Startribune.com:

"Marriage is good for married people, good for kids and good for society. Public policy should support and reinforce it. On these important points, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt is surely correct ('Let's protect the meaning of marriage,' April 28). To help sustain families and to protect marriage, however, we should do the opposite of what he suggests. We should let gay couples wed.

"There are about 150,000 gay or lesbian Minnesotans. The 2000 census revealed that there are about 9,000 same-sex unmarried-partner households in the state. Whether by adoption or biology, thousands of children here are being raised by gay parents. Minnesota is also one of about half the states where it is possible for a same-sex partner to share full legal responsibility with the biological parent.

"The state encourages the formation of families by same-sex couples. Yet when it comes to protecting these families in the law, Minnesota treats them as worthless. It makes no provision for them.

"Marriage offers families irreplaceable legal, care-giving and social support. Law confers rights and imposes obligations on married people in ways often designed to sustain them in times of crisis. It also encourages spouses to commit to each other. It makes them think twice about splitting up. Children are more secure in households where their parents are married.

"The welfare of gay persons and their children is a material and moral concern for every humane and civilized citizen. What is Nienstedt's proposal for dealing with them? So far, he has just one: Retrieve from the dust bin a failed constitutional amendment excluding them from marriage.

..."Minnesota should follow the lead of the 15 states covering about a fourth of the U.S. population, along with more than two dozen countries, that have already recognized the relationships of same-sex couples to some degree. Five states and seven countries now have full freedom to marry. None of the ill effects hypothesized by Nienstedt has come true. And this change is increasingly coming through legislatures, not courts.

"The freedom to marry is one of those rare reforms in which every affected person is a winner and none is a loser. It's win-win."

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