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Recent letters to the editor allege that support for maintaining the traditional definition of marriage in the eyes of the law is based on fear and bigotry, particularly religiously motivated bigotry.

However, a closer examination of the institution of marriage and the reason government recognizes it shows those claims are false.

Man and woman naturally complement each other physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. They were made to give themselves completely and fully to each other, for the two to become one. Marriage is merely one man and one woman making a complete and total gift of self to the other, for the rest of their earthly lives, and this is consummated in the act of sexual intercourse, which reflects and echoes this two becoming one in a physical way.

The two literally become "one flesh" and this one flesh union is the sole means by which human life is transmitted. This procreative capacity of marriage is the reason the government recognizes and bestows financial and legal benefits on it that are not bestowed on any other union. Those benefits are given to bind the husband and wife together, to bind the children to their mother and father, and to help the mother and father financially support their children, because children do best when they grow up in a stable home with their mother and father.

Recognizing marriage and endowing it with government benefits helps guarantee such an environment for children, and government has a compelling reason to do this in virtue of its responsibility to safeguard and promote the common good.

Government is justified in denying same-sex relationships as equivalent with marriage for the simple fact that same-sex sexual acts, such as sodomy and mutual masturbation, are inherently sterile and can never under any circumstances result in the transmission of human life.

In the words of a venerable law professor from Minnesota "The government is not in the love business, but the baby business."

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Moreover, when the government changes the legal definition of marriage, all laws that mention marriage are automatically changed, and some of these changes jeopardize the religious freedoms of religious organizations and individuals.

For instance, in Washington, D.C., and in Massachusetts, Catholic Charities was forced to abandon its adoption services because it would not place children with same-sex couples in contravention of Catholic teachings. A more ominous example is found in Canada, where a Catholic bishop was brought before a human rights tribunal accused of hate speech on several occasions for preaching homilies that merely articulated and explained Catholic teaching that same-sex sexual acts are sinful.

Although he was acquitted, in a similar case from Sweden, a Protestant pastor was convicted of hate speech for preaching a similar homily and his conviction was upheld by the highest court of Sweden and only overturned on appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

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Proponents of same-sex marriage claim this is a matter of civil rights, but what about the religious freedom of religious organizations and ordinary citizens? Isn't that a civil right? Yet recognition of same-sex marriage would imperil that civil right.

Lastly, where is the discrimination? All men and all women are treated equally. There are many things the law prevents us from doing, murder for example. "Marrying" someone of the same sex is one of those things and that does not discriminate.

We thus encourage all people of goodwill in this great state to support the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.

Dick Houck is president of the Catholic Defense League.

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