To My Brothers -- The Catholic Bishops of Minnesota:
In 1976 I was elected a Lutheran bishop in Minnesota -- one of seven such Lutheran leaders in the state. Over the next years one of the highlights of my time in office was the annual noon-to-noon retreat with our eight Catholic counterparts in the state.
The bond that developed between us was deep and respectful. We shared our differences; we celebrated our likenesses. My friendship with Archbishop John Roach and Bishop Raymond Lucker, in particular, is a blessing I will treasure as long as I live.
May I share a word with all of you who now lead the Roman Catholic community of faith in Minnesota?
First, I would go to the wall to defend your right to work for the adoption of the so-called marriage protection amendment. Having said that, I must tell you that I believe you are making a significant mistake.
Over my 35 years as an active and retired bishop I have come to know hundreds of gay and lesbian persons. I have yet to meet even one who is opposed to the marriage of one man and one woman. After all, they are the daughters and sons of such unions.
What they cannot understand is why church leaders would oppose their fundamental desire and right to be in partnership with someone they love and respect who happens to be of the same gender and sexual orientation. They don't understand why they should not enjoy all the rights and privileges their straight counterparts take for granted.