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Rep. Jay McNamar: How I decided to vote in favor of same-sex marriage bill

ST. PAUL -- As you may know, the Minnesota House of Representatives took up a bill to allow same-sex civil marriage this past week. The bill doesn’t force any church to perform marriages that go against their religious beliefs. It simply allows the state to recognize the civil marriages of same-sex couples from churches that wish to perform them. I wanted to talk a little bit about the process I went through to make a decision on this bill.

First, let me say that this was a very complicated decision. I’m a religious person. I was raised on John 3:16. As someone who spent the better part of his life teaching, I firmly believe that you should treat every person with respect no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else for that matter. That is the basis on which I make my decisions as a legislator and as a man.

But throughout this process, I didn’t want my opinion to be the only one that mattered. The voices of my constituents are what carried most of the weight for me over the past few months. I said from the very beginning that I would make my decision based on what my constituents told me. On my very first day someone called me to talk about same-sex marriage. From there I went through emails, phone calls, surveys, letters, and in person conversations on both sides of the issue. Overall, there were 64 percent of people urging me to support same-sex marriage and 36 percent urging me to vote against same-sex marriage. 

Because of the number of constituents urging me to support the bill, and because of my personal commitment to respect everyone as equals, I voted in favor of the bill to allow same-sex marriage.