VIDEO: Lawmakers pitch civil union bill

With MPR’s Tim Pugmire

A bipartisan group of lawmakers today proposed a bill to establish civil unions for same-sex couples in Minnesota as an alternative to legalizing same-sex marriage. Four Republican members of the House held an afternoon news conference to announce the bill.

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, was among four House Republicans who bucked their party in 2011 and voted against putting a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot to ban gay marriage . The defeat of that amendment last fall launched this session’s legislative push to legalize same-sex marriage. But Kelly said his opposition of the amendment was never intended as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.

“If you heard my message and you listened to my statement on the House floor, I was completely opposed to government intervention,” Kelly said. “Now that the conversation has changed, it would be completely hypocritical of me to make the statement that now I believe government should take the role.”

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R, Farmington, Rep. Andrea Kieffer, R-Woodbury and Rep. Dennis McNamara, R-Hastings, joined Kelly at the news conference. Kelly says Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, has also signed on to the bill.

The proposal was quickly criticized by DFL House leaders and backers of legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry. They say civil unions are not an alternative to marriage.

“It would classify same-sex couples as second class citizens in Minnesota,’ Jake Loesch, spokesman for Minnesotans United for All Families, said. “Everyone deserves the freedom to marry the person that they love.”

A spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, which is lobbying against the bill to legalize same-sex marriage, says the group is reserving judgment on the civil unions bill.

  • Larry Sanderson

    Ook! Ook! Just like schools and water fountains ustta be in the South? Golly! That’s some step forward! For Neanderthals, anyway.

  • Ian Snyder

    I wonder if Representative Kelly would rather have a civil union with his wife, instead of marriage.

  • Nathan Johnson

    Let’s see, hmmmm, Democrats haven’t proposed i because seperate rights are not Equal rights. I propose a bill to do away with civil marriage entirely then and let all couples have Civil unions in the state of MN, how does that grab ya Kelly?