The Minnesota Catholic Conference, an organization representing “the united voice of the Catholic bishops of Minnesota on public policy matters,” has released its legislative priorities for Minnesota’s 2012 session. At the top of the list is a constitutional amendment banning relationship rights for same-sex couples. The group also says it will work to protect the safety net for the poor, even advocating tax increases if necessary.
In the Catholic Spirit, a newsletter of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Peter Noll, the MCC’s education director, said, “It’s a clarion call from our faith… to get involved and stand up for the common good, stand up for the poor and vulnerable. If that requires us to be in the political arena, that’s where we’ll be.”
According to the group’s legislative plan, “The MCC will work to develop and identify sponsors for a marriage amendment that could appear on the ballot in 2012 for approval by Minnesota voters if the proposal passes with a majority vote in both the House and Senate. The procedure bypasses the governor’s office. Republicans proposed similar amendments in the past but ran into opposition from DFL leaders.”
MCC’s Father David McCauley, said the push for an amendment stems from concern for heterosexual families.
“One of the things that concerns me is that we are able to present the whole thing in a context that suggests we are concerned about marriage and family and all that has happened to it in our state and country over the last 30 years,” said Father McCauley, who cited concerns about the number of children today raised out of wedlock and the effects of no-fault divorce laws.
Same-sex marriage has been illegal over the last 30 years, and, in fact, since Minnesota’s founding. No-fault divorce became legal in Minnesota in 1978. In the last decade, no serious attempt has been made to outlaw no-fault divorce nor has an attempt been made to amend the state constitution in regards to divorce.
In addition to banning gay marriage, the MCC is also concerned about how budget cuts might affect the poor.
Having already used up onetime solutions and reducing services in past legislatures, we are fearful for how the next round of budget cutting may impact health and human services. Some services are not negotiable in a just society. The MCC is concerned about the impact on the poorest, most vulnerable members of our society, especially since unemployment, housing and food security are all growing issues in our state. Therefore, we will continue to support and advocate for the reforms recommended by the Legislative Commission to End Poverty, as well as support an increase in tax revenue should it become necessary.
Among the other initiatives the group says it will work on is supporting anti-bullying measure – so long as they don’t include specific provisions for LGBT students – a ban on taxpayer funding for abortion, legislation that provides health care for all Minnesotans, and laws that allow medical workers to opt out of prescribing birth control or working with issues that violate their religious beliefs, such as LGBT families.
The full MCC agenda can be viewed here.