The marriage amendment is a critical issue facing Minnesota voters, said Chuck Berg, candidate for State House District 55A.
Several hot button issues turned up at the State Senate and House Districts 55 and 55A candidates forum. The forum, held on Oct. 23, was divided into two separate debates for the state senate and state house candidates.
State House District 55A candidates Mike Beard (R) incumbent and Chuck Berg (DFL) tackled the first major issue early on in the debate: the marriage amendment and same-sex marriage.
The two candidates stood on opposite sides of the issues. Beard supported the amendment and opposed same-sex marriage while Berg opposed the amendment and supported same-sex marriage.
Beard said that while Minnesota does not allow same-sex marriage, there is a lawsuit challenging that law. He explained his belief that it is not the place of the courts to tell the legislature how to define marriage. People should choose the definition, he argued—"not some clever judges; not some trial lawyers," he said.
Said Beard, “If we redefine marriage then there is no definition to marriage. It can mean anything or nothing. That’s why it’s important for the people to tell us what definitions they want us to work with.”
“It’s absolutely wrong to be putting a constitutional amendment on something we already have a law for,” he said. “In fact, it’s spiteful.”
He has been married for 26 years, he said, and he hoped that if his daughter chose to marry someone of the same sex that she too would have the chance to enjoy a long marriage.
Berg said that the fear of the unknown causes people to oppose same-sex marriage. He continued, saying that he did not see any reasonable arguments for the idea that gay marriage would hurt marriage in Minnesota.
State Senate District 55 candidates Kathy Busch (DFL) and Eric Pratt (R) also gave their views on the marriage amendment. Their positions lined up with their party counterparts in the state house debate.
Said Busch, “I am also opposed to this amendment. I think that we have a law already. I believe that amendments to our constitution… should expand our rights, not limit our rights.”
Pratt countered, saying that Minnesotans should decide on the definition of marriage instead of the court, and he did not want churches to feel forced to make decisions against their beliefs.
The Shakopee Chamber of Commerce hosted the forum in partnership with Shakopee Public Schools. The debate was held at Shakopee High School, and students from Shakopee Schools asked some of the questions.
Video of the debate will become available online.