Ex-Viking Matt Birk: "Not all NFL players think redefining marriage is a good thing" [VIDEO]

Birk, a Republican, has come out in opposition to same-sex marriage.
Birk, a Republican, has come out in opposition to same-sex marriage.

The NFL is quickly becoming an important forum in the gay marriage debate.

-- Chris Kluwe wants to debate Mary Franson
-- Chris Kluwe to Emmett Burns: Gay marriage "won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster"

On one side of the issue, of course, are Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, both of whom are outspoken gay marriage supporters. And now emerging on the other side is Ravens center Matt Birk, an ex-Viking, St. Paul native, and Catholic.

In a Star Tribune op-ed published yesterday and video published Saturday by the Minnesota Catholic Conference, Birk explains why he thinks Minnesotans should vote yes on the marriage amendment.

From Birk's "Let's protect marriage -- and speech" op-ed:

The union of a man and a woman is privileged and recognized by society as "marriage" for a reason, and it's not because the government has a vested interest in celebrating the love between two people. With good reason, government recognizes marriages and gives them certain legal benefits so they can provide a stable, nurturing environment for the next generation of citizens: our kids...

Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children -- the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both...

A defense of marriage is not meant as an offense to any person or group. All people should be afforded their inalienable American freedoms. There is no opposition between providing basic human rights to everyone and preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.

And here's Birk's video:

A response from Kluwe is on its way, but Minnesotans United for All Families has already published a detailed response to the arguments Birk puts forth in the op-ed and video. To read it in full, click to page two.


Dear Mr. Birk,

I read your commentary in today's Star Tribune. On behalf of Minnesotans United for All Families, I hear your desire for a respectful and thoughtful debate in this state on whether our constitution should deny some Minnesotans the freedom to enjoy the protections and responsibilities that only marriage provides.

We all owe Minnesotans a civil debate on this issue, free from the distractions that too often cloud this discussion.

The issue at hand - and the only issue at hand - is that people of this state will be asked on November 6 to decide whether to use our Constitution to permanently deny the freedom to marry to some Minnesotans.

I want to tell you why I oppose this measure, and why so many other Minnesotans do too. This amendment to our state's constitution would limit a basic freedom for some Minnesotans - like me - just because of who they are. Gay and lesbian couples want to marry for similar reasons as anyone else. And I know I stand with hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans when I say, no one would want to be told it's illegal to marry the person you love.

I believe you share my desire to see all of our state's children thrive - and I believe we agree that strong and stable families are the best way to make sure that happens. But where we part ways is that we do not believe in denying some children the possibility of being raised by parents who enjoy the protections and stability that only marriage provides.

In reality, thousands of children in Minnesota are already being raised by committed gay and lesbian couples. These parents know what all parents know - children do best in stable, loving environments. Over 25 years of research has shown that children of gay and lesbian parents do just as well as they do with heterosexual parents. Gay and lesbian parents in Minnesota already provide loving and stable homes for thousands of our children - and will continue to do so regardless of the outcome of this amendment. The only question is: will our government tell these children that their families matter less, or that they are not worthy of the basic protections of marriage.

You and I are both Christians. I hope you are aware, and are making your supporters aware, that your church - nor any church - will never be forced to marry any individuals it does not want to marry, regardless of the outcome of the vote on this amendment.

Some churches want to marry same-sex couples, others don't. In fact, there are churches on both sides of this debate and over 400 Minnesota clergy members who are opposed to this constitutional amendment. They oppose it because this amendment mixes religion and politics in our constitution. Like many Minnesotans, they feel that the best thing to do is take government out of this debate and let churches decide for themselves what couples they will and won't marry.

Finally, you mentioned in your commentary that our culture has diverted from the ideals of "I am my brother's keeper" and "love your neighbor as yourself." Unfortunately, this amendment takes us further away from those ideals by singling out and excluding gay and lesbian couples from the love, commitment and responsibility that only marriage represents - simply because of who they are. If we are to be our brother's keeper, we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

I share your desire for a reasonable and charitable debate this political season. We are doing everything in our power to ensure that this happens. A number of the state's most prominent clergy recently signed a letter calling for a respectful conversation about this issue. Let's both do what we can to help make it so.

In short, we share many of your goals and values. We simply believe that the better Minnesota and stronger families we both seek can be achieved by voting "no" on an amendment that would deny committed couples the freedom to marry the person they love.

Respectfully yours,
Richard Carlbom, Campaign Manager
Minnesotans United for All Families

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