By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com September 02 2012 1:03 PM ET
The archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has penned a letter asking Roman Catholics in Minnesota to vote in favor of a pending constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. John C. Nienstedt's open letter was published in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis' official publication, The Catholic Spirit.
"Our effort to support God's unchanging plan for marriage is not a campaign against anyone," Nienstedt writes in the letter. "But rather a positive effort to promote the truth about marriage as a union between one man and one woman."
Nienstedt goes on to posit red-herring arguments about how children do best in a family with a mother and father, focusing on the biological relation between parents and a child.
"Gender matters," writes Nienstedt. "Kids do need a mom and dad. The well-being of children lies in the balance of a man-made social experiment. At the core of this latter concept is the belief that gender doesn't really matter."
By the letter's close, Nienstedt outright demands that Catholics vote along his conscience, rather than their own. "We must ensure that Minnesotans know what is at stake and have the correct information about why they should vote 'Yes' for the marriage amendment. (Remember that if you leave the ballot box blank, the government votes 'No' for you!)
The Minn Post reports that Catholic churches and groups in the state have already donated $1 million to the campaign supporting the constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Despite Archbishop Nienstedt's assertions to the contrary, Michael Bayly, director of Catholics for Marriage Equality, said not all Catholics are united in opposition to same-sex marriage. Bayly told the Minn Post that several parishoners had walked out of services when clergy began preaching that all Catholics must vote in favor of the marriage equality ban.
A facebook group of Catholics opposing the ban acquired a list of 17 Catholic parishes which did not read the letter. That group, "I am Catholic. I am voting NO!" has more than 450 members.