Hearings underway on same-sex marriage bill

A Minnesota House panel listened this morning to passionate public testimony for and against a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, and a vote is expected by the end of the day.

Supporters of the bill say they want to take the next step, following last fall’s defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. State Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, is the chief author of the bill. Clark told members of the House Civil Law Committee that legalizing same-sex marriage is the right thing to do.

“No Minnesotan should be told that it is illegal to marry the person they love, and that includes me, and many people that you all know and love,” Clark said.

But opponents have their own interpretation of the amendment defeat. Pastor Gus Booth of Warroad told lawmakers that voters who voted against the amendment were not saying they wanted to legalize gay marriage.

“We were told that if the amendment was defeated our marriage laws wouldn’t change, and same-sex marriage would remain illegal,” Booth said. “We now know that we were sold a false bill of goods. In fact it didn’t take more than a month before the mask was pulled off and we learned that the real objective was to defeat the amendment and then to force gay marriage on all Minnesotans. In northern Minnesota we don’t appreciate this kind of bait and switch tactic.”

Opponents want the definition of marriage to remain as between one man and one woman. Grace Evens, age 11, said changing the law would take away something important for children.

“Since every child needs a mom and a dad to be born, I don’t think we can change that children need a mom and a dad,” Evans said. “I believe God made it that way.”

Former Republican state Rep. Lynne Osterman, a supporter of the bill, said she has long regretted her vote to put the Defense of Marriage Act into state law. She urged current lawmakers to avoid similar regret.

“Voting no today this session might seem politically expedient,” Osterman said. “But I can tell you from experience that you will have to live knowing that a no vote is not fair, it’s not respectful and it’s not equal.”

The House panel will resume its hearing and take a vote on the measure tonight. The Senate Judiciary Committee is also taking up the marriage bill this afternoon. If approved, the bills would next go to the ful House and full Senate. But DFL leaders have said floor votes won’t come until later in the session when budget bills are completed.

  • Katherine Mennicke

    We have been hearing repeatedly that marriage is about “who you love.” However, that has not been the historical definition of marriage. It has not even been about commitment. It has always been about a unique sexual union between male and female, the ONLY sexual union capable of producing vulnerable new human life. The fact that same sex couples have children (that physically could not have come from the same sex union) and that some heterosexual couples do not or cannot does negate that truth. There is no harm intended in that statement. That is just the way it is, and we have language honoring that reality. Difference alone does not mean unequal. Definition of difference alone need not deny rights to those outside of that definition, while a change of definition, an erasure of difference, destroys the uniqueness of a definition as originally applied. This fight over the word “marriage” is tearing us apart, and it is unnecessary. We rightfully advocate for GLBT persons to be accepted for who they are. We say that we are a culture that celebrates differences. Why, then, should we be so intent on labeling unique relationships with the same word? It is rights that are needed for persons not under the umbrella of marriage (and that includes family groups not included in this discussion), not a re-definition of marriage. Some discussion please, some honest questions about what might be gained and what will be lost if we re-define this institution enshrined in law and in language for hundreds and even thousands of years. It is an institution based on human biology. I am not hearing honest questions and discussion on public radio about what this would mean. Rights, yes. Re-definition of marriage, not so sure.

  • Evan Dvorsak

    Pastor Booth believes this bill will “force gay marriage on all Minnesotans?” Lord have mercy! This type of paranoia in the anti-gay marriage/anti-love camp is absurd. I would question his church’s tax-exempt status if he is politicking from the pulpit.

  • wayne

    If the good pastor thinks that procreation is the sine qua non of marriage, I know a carpenter named Joseph he should talk to. If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me!!!!

  • Lee Swenka

    Question to Katherine Mennicke:

    If you ammend laws to accord same-sex couples the same rights that heterosexual couples enjoy then haven’t you already legally redefined marriage? Why, in that case, would the two situations have to reside under separate labels? Same-sex “marriage,” after all, wouldn’t affect heterosexual unions one bit. In fact, some of us who support same-sex marriage wonder why heterosexuals get so heated up over the topic–no one, after all, is asking them to enter into same-sex unions. Why would heterosexual couples who oppose same-sex unions be opposed other than the fact that EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW, to them, is repugnant. To be equal to a gay couple is unthinkable? Why, in fact, would heterosexuals be interested in this question at all? Is it intolerance?

    The truth is, the “historical definition” you state is really in the eye of the beholder. Some, like you, would say that marriage is designed to safeguard procreation. Others would say that the goal of marriage is to contractualize control over women by men. Others maintain that marriage is ordained by Providence. The reality is, there is NO one “historical definition,” as there is no “truth” other than the one we decide we adhere to. And, in this day in age, none of us does wins more or loses less than sticking to what’s in the law for two people who want to establish a civil union.

    I’m a good 55-year-old Catholic girl and, over the years, I’ve made many compromises with the Vatican and its abuses to remain faithful to the Church I love. My gay brother is in love with a LEGAL Mexican immigrant and I can tell you that they would have saved a lot of time and a lot of money in lawyer fees to preserve their own, childless, union.

    In closing, I would ask you to think about something beyond your own situation and to open your heart to people who may not be like you, Katherine. There is another solution, of course: We could all decide to transform your marriage into a CIVIL UNION and then there would be total equality. What do you think about that?

  • Jesse Andrew

    Regardless of what katherine says, marriage is indeed about commitment and love. If she’s forgotten, maybe someone should recite the traditional wedding vows to her, which include “Till death do us part”, not “Till children do we begat”

    Linking the reproductive process to whether homosexuals should be granted the right to civil marriages is irresponsible and intentionally misleading.

    If we really want to look at the history of marriage, it began as the process by with a man purchased a woman, a deal made between the groom, and the parents of the bride. This of course has changed, as has many things involving marriage, all of which could have bared the argument “Until now we never did it this way, therefore it should never be this way”. A ridiculous argument if ever there was one.

  • Minuteman

    Jesse bleated: **marriage is indeed about commitment and love**.

    Many people are committed to and love their dogs. And…? You have pretty low standards when it comes to what makes up a marriage, kiddo.

    And your assessment of the history of marriage is as deeply flawed as your argument in favor of perverts “marrying”. Male and female are the primary and only significant sexual bond that exists in this world. THAT bond keeps life going on this planet. THAT bond builds stable and healthy families. The attempts by dipwads to rewrite the laws of nature for political gain and expediency are laughable and frighteningly illogical.

    Minnesotans have awakened and smelled the coffee. Polls have proven that they are NOT in favor of gay “marriage”. Arrogant lawmakers had better taken the citizen’s opinions into account, or they’ll be looking for new jobs next election time.