The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 6, 2013

Your View: Hecker can marry from jail; my friends can’t at all

John Dorn, Mankato

— Denny Hecker married his girlfriend in 2011. Hecker, a convicted felon, participated in the ceremony (his fifth) via a brief phone call from his jail cell. Judging from newspaper accounts, over 1,000 laws provided legal/financial benefits to Hecker and his spouse when they said “I Do.”

Contrast that scene with my family friend and her female partner, the legal parents of six children of various ages and backgrounds. Some were wards of the state, some were not. I think all the school details, health visits, family adjustments and social interactions would be overwhelming, but somehow the family manages and still has the energy to celebrate birthdays, enjoy holidays, and even pitch a tent in a campground from time to time. Meanwhile, Hecker has just been transferred to his eighth prison.

It would take an incredible amount of time, money, and legal expertise to empower my friends with legal accommodations that others can gain in a short ceremony. I understand that some churches will witness same-sex marriages and some will not. That is their rightful choice. But it would also be right for lawmakers in Minnesota to allow the benefits of marriage to all partners who are willing to profess their vows in whatever church or legal venue they choose. Whatever we do for the least of our brethren can be extended to the rest of our brethren. If we can’t love our neighbors as much as ourselves, we can at least love them as much as our convicted felons.