Alrighty people. Four days until November 6 and that means this is day three of reasons you should VOTE NO on both amendments on Minnesota’s ballot. Read day one and the intro here.

Scenario 1: This is not so much a scenario, but an amalgam of arguments you can file under: “But, religion!”

Look, if you or your brethren are super committed to the whole marriage=man/woman/procreation thing, I don’t know that anyone can do anything in four days to really help you. Both of my grandmothers lost their spouses about 40 and 15 years before they died, respectively, and if either of them had decided to marry someone new in their 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s, it would have been weird (because thinking about your elders all smitten is kind of weird), but no one would have been screaming about procreation. But that’s logic and logic has no place in this.

Instead, I’m going to tell you a story.

I was raised Catholic like everyone else in my family and I have something of a secret those of you who were not raised Catholic do not know. We aren’t really raised to know the difference between any of the other Christian denominations. Seriously — you’re all just ‘Protestant.’ In fact (and I’m a little skittish about actually writing this down), priests aren’t super strong advocates of marriage of Catholics to non-Catholics — and I’m not talking interfaith here, I’m talking Episcopalian or Lutheran or whatever.

Why point this out? Well, first off, clergy of any religion have the ability to nix marrying any couple in a given religion. I’ve known Jewish rabbis who won’t perform interfaith marriages either, mostly because they believe those marriages don’t work out in the long run or that the children won’t be raised Jewish. It’s the same deal for Catholics. If they’re not required to marry any opposite sex couple that walks through the door, rest assured there will not be a legal requirement to marry any same sex couple that walks through the door either.

In a very strong respect, this amendment is also an assault on religious liberty. There are a number of denominations/religions that do perform same sex marriages (some church-wide and some at the discretion of individual members of leadership, like bishops), these include: Episcopalians, Lutherans (ELCA), United Church of Christ, Unitarians, Reform Judaism, and Conservative Judaism. I want anyone using a religious argument to think very hard about whether they want the government or more dominant religions getting mixed up in their own sacraments (or whatever).

Of course, and this needs to be mentioned even though it doesn’t sway anyone, but there are lots of agnostics, atheists, and unaffiliated people out there and I think it’s ridiculous to tell any of us we can’t be married legally because of religion even though none of our opposite sex marriages have anything to do with churches. (That number is currently around 16% of the U.S. population, so it isn’t small potatoes.)

Finally, and I’m particularly angry with the Catholic hierarchy about this, but the religion of my childhood seems to have forgotten how forcefully Catholic candidates for office had to advocate for the separation of church and state just to fend off fears that the Pope would control U.S. policy. There was actual discrimination against Catholics in this way — but the current leadership of the Church is making that ridiculous idea an actual reality, which is weird and uncomfortable. Take a moment to listen to or read through JFK’s famous 1960 speech in Texas. Oh, hell, I’ll just post in part of it below:

These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues–for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured–perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again–not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me–but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

Scenario 2: I want to stop all voting fraud, even if it’s an infinitesimal chance, it’s worth it for our democracy.

I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I’m a pretty big tech geek. It’s what I get paid for, it’s how I roll, and as far as democracy goes, I’ve been pretty concerned about voting problems for a long time. Thankfully, here in Minnesota we still have paper ballots, but in other states the machines are such that there is only an electronic copy of votes — no back up, no proof that what you punched in on the screen is what got registered.

So let me ask you this first, let’s say that ID is an issue at the polls (it’s not, individual voting fraud is not, see yesterday’s post for details) — but let’s say that the lack of transparency in our election system is a big, mysterious, vague blob. Which is more troubling?

To put that in terms of my house: I have a crack in my stairway wall that drives me nuts. There’s some water damage, it looks kind of ugly, but it’s not actually causing any problems — I can just clearly see it and I don’t like it. I’ve also had the following: basement stairs that were about to give out and crumble under someone’s feet, rotten basement windows and a messed up chimney that were letting quite a bit of water in when it rained, a broken water heater, an improperly flashed porch roof, and — the bane of my existence — a tree with such powerful roots that it literally backs up sewage into our laundry tub sink exactly once every 11 months if we don’t get the roots chopped up by the sewer guy in time.

I hate those roots.

The mechanics of our voting system — literally, the structures of our voting machines — are like those tree roots. They’re not visible unless you know where to look and most people won’t notice anything’s wrong until something terrible happens. Computers are still not very understood by most people, and computer security is even less understood. It’s way easier to think about one or two bad people gaming the system, but it’s really pointless on a grand scale. Want to protect our democracy? Learn about and care about how we’re actually voting. This book is a start. I’d also recommend learning about the Electronic Frontier Foundation


Stopwatch designed by Steffen Nørgaard Andersen from The Noun Project