Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reprint: Senate Majority Leader playing politics with traditional marriage

In the March 2006 issue of the Pro Family News MFC broke the story of ex-Sen. Dean Johnson's MN Supreme Court Justice statement, his "friends that work for Karl Rove" and casting doubt upon the tax exempt status of churches actively defending marriage.

Later that year, several Willmar area churches were harassed by a local attorney with suprious warnings that marriage petitions and sermons could jepardize their tax exempt status.

Senate Majority Leader playing politics with traditional marriage
Pro-Family News, March/April 2006 Issue

With the 2006 legislative session approaching, the fate of the people’s right to vote on the definition of marriage may seem far-off. Yet Senator Dean Johnson is wasting little time lulling the voter with blithe assurances, faulty reasoning, and vague threats. A comparison of Johnson’s remarks with events in Canada and Iowa doesn’t bode well for voters expecting to vote on marriage.

Most Minnesotans are aware that in 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Court ordered its state legislature to legalize homosexual marriage. Recently, a judge struck down marriage laws in Maryland and lawsuits are pending in six states: California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York and Washington. Anticipating these challenges, voters in 19 states passed marriage amendments by an average of 70%.

In Minnesota, a Mason Dixon poll shows 63% of likely voters want to vote on the definition of marriage. In a twist of logic, Johnson dismisses the need for an amendment because Minnesota laws already prohibit same-sex marriage. Speaking before a group at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Johnson irresponsibly assured voters that marriage was safe from activist judges as well. “I know all the (Minnesota) Supreme Court judges. I’ve had a number of visits with them about our law,” said Johnson. They have no intention of changing our laws,” comforted Johnson. On January 19th, Johnson indicated that former Justice Kathleen Blatz and current Justice Anderson would not touch Minnesota marriage laws because they had to get “re-elected.”

Although the Supreme Court justices had no comment about Johnson’s remarks, a spokes person indicated that justices do not prejudge cases and doubted whether the justices would share their opinions with a politician.

On a recent visit to Minnesota, Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary Alberta warned pastors not to be fooled by the false assurances of politicians. Bishop Henry sited a 1999 statement by Justice Minister Ann McClellan before the Canadian House of Commons; “Let me state again for the record that the government (Canada) has no intention of changing the definition of marriage or of legislating same sex marriages. The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is found in the common law of our country and the common law of our system of law. We the government thought perhaps we could spend our time debating other issues as opposed to that on which there is clarity in law.”

To the south Iowa joined a growing list of states battling marriage lawsuits. In December, New York based Lambda Legal, and 6 lesbian couples filed suit claiming Iowa’s definition of marriage “draws impermissible distinctions based on sex and sexual orientation . . . all in violation of the equal protection guarantee of the Iowa Constitution.”

The similarities between Minnesota and Iowa are chilling. Like Minnesota, Iowa statutes prohibit same-sex marriage. Anticipating a challenge, the Iowa State House passed a marriage protection amendment only to have it bottled in senate committee. In contrast to Minnesota however, homosexual activists are seizing upon this gridlock hoping to score a quick win in the courts. Perhaps by creating gridlock in Minnesota, Johnson too is hoping for a quick score after the elections in November? In the mean time, Johnson is scoring as well.

At Bethlehem Lutheran, Johnson claimed to have “friends that work for Karl Rove,” who say Rove likes the marriage issue because it “divides people.” Ignoring a Mason Dixon poll that shows 65% of Minnesotans oppose same-sex marriage, Johnson’s faulty logic concludes that the marriage amendment is a plot to elect republicans. If so, the reverse must be true; that Johnson is willing to sacrifice the definition of marriage to maintain a DFL majority in the senate.

Johnson chose the Bethlehem meeting to create his own “divisions” by casting doubt upon the tax-exempt status of churches actively defending marriage. After reading the tax code he alluded to an “investigation” under way with the revenue commissioner. In Canada, the threats were real however. After publishing a pastoral letter, Bishop Henry was investigated by Revenue Canada, the Canadian IRS. Does Johnson mean to suggest that Minnesota audit churches who defend marriage as between a man and a woman?

There is nothing new about politicians lulling the voter with questionable assurances. However thanks to Bishop Henry and Iowa, Minnesota voters can predict the outcomes of Senator Johnson’s carefully crafted statements. Senator Johnson says he is against same-sex marriage. But it’s a safe bet he will continue twisting logic while blocking attempts to pass a marriage amendment in the upcoming session; blithely circumventing the will of the people and exposing the definition of marriage to lawsuits and activist judges.

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