First comes love. Then comes marriage?by Nikki Tundel, Minnesota Public Radio
Countries around the world have been debating gay marriage for years. President Bush has addressed the topic a number of times. And it's a rare day when the issue doesn't show up in the newspaper. But is same-sex marriage the most important concern in the gay community?
St. Paul, Minn. — Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. But that doesn't mean the issue is going to go away any time soon.
Efforts to either legalize or ban same-sex marriage have energized political parties, divided communities, united activists and prompted questions about the future of our society.
According to the most recent poll from the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of Americans oppose making gay marriage legal. And that figure, of course, means the country is pretty much split on the issue.
Opponents of same-sex marriage consider themselves defenders of tradition. They believe marriage should be defined exclusively as the union of one man and one woman. They fear that legalizing gay marriage would erode the country's moral values.
Proponents of same-sex marriage say it's a violation of civil rights to prohibit gay Americans from being allowed to legally wed. They argue that traditional concepts of marriage have already undergone significant change and that same-sex marriage is just the latest evolution of the institution.
Regardless of your take on the issue, you'll find it hard to avoid hearing about it. The debate over same-sex marriage shows up everywhere from the statehouse to the coffeehouse. A day rarely goes by without it being mentioned in the news. And it's certainly a hot topic on many blogs and Web sites.
One of the places you'd certainly expect the issue of gay marriage to pop up is at the Twin Cities Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender Pride Celebration -- or, as it's more commonly known, Pride. This year's weekend-long event welcomed more than 400,000 people, according to its organizers.
The annual Pride festival is held in Minneapolis' Loring Park. It's best described as what would happen if you mixed a political rally with Taste of Minnesota and threw in a little Woodstock for good measure.
It's a place where you can pick up a bag of mini-donuts right next to a tent offering on-the-spot syphilis tests. And merchants peddle everything from rainbow flags to rainbow dresses for your dog.
One of the big draws at the festival -- other than the beer tent -- is the mass commitment ceremony. This year, about 25 couples tied the knot at a group wedding. Of course, gay marriage is not legally recognized in Minnesota so the event is purely ceremonial.
The Pride festival isn't the type of place you'd expect to find people who oppose gay marriage. Certainly, nearly everyone there was in favor of making same-sex marriage legal and made it clear that gay Minnesotans shouldn't be relegated to purely ceremonial wedding ceremonies.
Still, the majority of attendees were convinced that gay marriage is getting too much attention.
Reporter Nikki Tundel talked with lots of gay Minnesotans who wish coverage of the gay community would extend beyond the debate over gay marriage. And many believe there are other issues in the world that deserve some of the notice sex-same marriage is getting.