Two DFL lawmakers from Minneapolis unveiled legislation today that would legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Karen Clark outlined their proposal during a State Capitol news conference, surrounded by supportive clergy members and families. The effort follows last November’s defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Dibble said the legislation affirms the things that people share throughout the state.
“This is a day to be very very proud to be a Minnesotan,” Dibble said. “Because Minnesotans have rallied around this unifying, this clarifying discussion about the power of love in our lives.”
Dibble said he doesn’t know if there are enough votes now to pass the bill, but he believes they’re close. He said he expects supporters to engage with their legislators on the issue in the coming weeks.
Clark said she thinks there will be voters spoke loudly last fall.
“It was a very clear statement, and I think we’re now ready to take the next step,” Clark said.
The legislation has one Republican co-author. Sen. Branden Peterson, R-Andover, did not attend the news conference but issued a statement.
“As a strong proponent of limited government, conservative principles and individual liberty, I am proud to add my name as a co-author of legislation to secure the freedom to marry for same-sex couple in Minnesota,” Peterson wrote.
The bill would strike the language in current law that prohibits same-sex marriage, but would also make it clear that churches are not required to marry anyone. The formal introduction of the bill will come Thursday in the House and Senate.
Opponents of the efforts scheduled an afternoon news conference to respond.
UPDATE: Several Republican lawmakers held their own news conference to blast the marriage bill.
They claim it would redfine the institution of marriage in a radical new direction. Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said the supporters of proposed legalization of gay marriage have misinterpreted the message voters sent last fall.
“It is in no way a mandate from the people of Minnesota,” Limmer said. “The people simply said that they didn’t want to include the definition of marriage, as it is written in Minnesota state law, and include it in the state constitution.”
Other Republicans, including one ordained minister, suggested that the proposed change could infringe on religious freedom, even with the exemption in the bill.
Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville, said he doesn’t want to be forced one day to perform a marriage that he objects to.
“I personally will go to jail before I ever perform a marriage to a homosexual,” Hall said.
(photo: Tim Pugmire)