Does the debate over same-sex marriage have a place in Minnesota politics?

Each Monday now through the election, we’ll pose a question on an issue that’s pertinent to the race for Minnesota governor. Today’s Question: Does the debate over same-sex marriage have a place in Minnesota politics?

Democratic candidate Mark Dayton:

Absolutely, because under the founding principles of this country, “that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” all Minnesotans should have the right to marry legally the person they love.

Republican candidate Tom Emmer:

Each year, the Minnesota legislature debates and discusses thousands of issues important to Minnesotans. The debate over same-sex marriage is important to many in our state, and it is a part of our political discourse. The focus of this election is growing our economy and putting Minnesotans back to work and will be job one of the next governor.

Independence Party candidate Tom Horner:

Politics — that is, broadly engaging Minnesotans in understanding the issues and finding common ground on solutions — is the only way we will forge consensus on same sex marriage and other challenging issues. Otherwise, solutions will be imposed on Minnesota by the courts or narrow interests.

  • Yes, it definitely does. I think we need equality for all people, especially in marriage. People deserve to have the same rights for property, insurance, and their children. I think everyone should have the right to marry regardless of their sexual orientation.

  • Al Heebsh

    Absolutely, There are many Minnesota families who are denied the legal rights, privileges, and responsibilities that come with civil marriage. Families headed by gay and lesbian parents already exist in this state, and will continue to whether or not they get the blessing of those who believe it violates the rules of their religion. Civil and religious marriage are different entities. The question before politicians is whether they will continue to violate the separation of church and state guaranteed by our Constitution by denying to same sex couples the rights provided to married people.

    In Minnesota law there are about 515 ways in which same sex couples are discriminated against. Denying marriage to same sex couples has real effects on Minnesota citizens and their children in ways that many straight people would never consider. Check out to learn more.

  • Bob Pollard

    No. Although I’m behind gay and lesbian equality, this issue was created by conservative busybodies who can’t keep their noses out of other people’s sex.

  • Paul Rader

    Only if you believe that human rights and equal protection before the law are still debatable in the 21st century. Laws barring gays from marriage are immoral.

  • Yes, this issue of personal liberty should be resolved once and for all. The individual right to choose and marry a person that one loves is a basic right, and there is no societal gain to be made by denying that right to people who share a gender,.

  • Mike Huber

    The ban on same-sex marriage also violates the freedom of religion. If a church marries a couple, the State of Minnesota will recognize the couple if they are of different genders but not the same gender. Essentially the State is choosing which couples the church is allowed to legally marry.

    Because of this issue as well as civil rights issues already mentioned, it makes more sense that the State Supreme Court rule on it. The judicial branch exists to make sure our laws are constitutional. The rights guaranteed by the state and federal constitutions are for all citizens whether they belong to minority group or not.

  • Mike Slagenweit-Coffman

    Yes it does. As stated before, same-sex couples in Minnesota are discriminated against by the fact that they are denied the right to enter into a committed relationship with the person that they love, be able to adopt children, etc.

  • Duane Kvittem

    Absolutely not, if your state wants to issue a “marriage license” so be it, but the state ‘IE the Supreme Court’ has no right to force a church to conduct the marriage. There should be no discussion regarding this matter. Civil unions and other legal means are available to accomplish everything two people of the same sex want except the approval of of people that disagree, which is our constitutional privilege.

  • James

    No, marriage is between one man and one woman.

    I think the politicians have A LOT more relevant work to do.

    Homosexuals can call it anything they want other than marriage.


  • Aaron

    I’m not sure where Duane Kvittem gets the idea that the Supreme Court could force churches into conducting same-sex marriages. They currently get to choose who they marry, and that wouldn’t change.

  • Jen

    Does this belong in the MN political debate? Until marriage equality is available to all, yes.

    See David Brooks’ essay on same-sex marriage:

    “We shouldn’t just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.”

    His point is that marriage is a conservatising institution, and that of course conservatives should not only applaud, but support, anyone who desires to undertake it. THAT is a conservatism I can get behind.

  • Al

    What Duane Kvittem says about civil unions being available to same sex couples is simply not true in MInnesota. While there are are some instances of legal discrimination that gay couples can overcome with documents drawn up by lawyers (at great expense), that is simply not the case for many rights given to those who are married.

    As for for Duane’s argument about churches being forced to marry gay couples – that is simply false as well. There is a separation of chuch and state garaunteed by our Constitution. The state canot force a church to conduct same sex marriages.

    It is time that blatant lies are challenged and exposed for what they are. Lies have no place in civil political discourse.

  • Steve the Cynic

    The 3-decades-old coalition in the Republican party between business interests and the religious “right” has resulted in a staggering example of hypocrisy. They want “government” to keep its nose out of corporate board rooms and in private bedrooms.

  • Amy

    I definitely believe it needs to be addressed immediately, though not from a political standpoint because if we as a society continue to turn it into a political issue, the hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian couples out there will continue to be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. I believe this issue is a civil rights issue alone and needs to be addressed by the Supreme Court. There is absolutely no reason that in 2010 this needs to continue to be thrown into the political issue melting pot. Regardless of what people believe, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that we should continue to deny gay and lesbian couples the civil right to marriage. It should be illegal for non-profit organizations like the Minnesota Council on Families to distribute materials and advertisements like the one currently airing on TV that states “gay marriage has consequences” because all they accomplish is the perpetuation of discrimination against a class of citizens that just want the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Its not that hard people. Believe what you want, but don’t continue to deny fellow citizens basic rights!

  • Chris


    I do believe that if we accept more people for who they are we’ll have more people willing to come here and work/start new businesses/pay taxes..etc. I think gay marriage will be legal everywhere eventually so we might as well be one of the first states to do it.

    Plus in my opinion it is not only morally right but it is true to our principles as a state and country. Freedom for all, not just those in power.

  • Tony

    Absolutely not.

    This is a wedge issue brought up by Republicans whenever they feel like they want people to focus on something other than the elephant in the room; namely the economy.

  • Matt

    Considering that politics is supposed to be about forming policies which could potentially affect the lives of thousands of Minnesotans over the course of this debate, of course the same-sex issue needs to be part of the discussion.

  • brian f

    Ahh, yes. The sanctity of heteresexual marriage: marriage = 1 man + 1 woman – 1 woman + 1 woman – 1 woman + 1 woman … (at least, if you’re Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh).

    It is an outright lie, born of malice or ignorance, that allowing a state to provide legal recognition of a relationship between two people of the same sex is equivalent to a government take over of churches.

    Marriage in the United States exists in two different and (ideally) non-intersecting domains: church and state. The religious right seems to think that progressives want to force same sex marriage on them, and that they are somehow going to be controlled/oppressed when we win this right. I’m dumbfounded that they can’t see that it is they who are forcing their moral standards on others, not the other way around. I’ll spell it out, because I know some of them are willfully ignorant: By demanding that the government not extend marriage rights to everyone, they are forcing everyone to live by their moral code. Providing these rights to homosexual couples, in contrast, forces no one to live in a way contrary to their beliefs. No straight couples will be required to obtain divorces and marry into same-sex relationships. No church will be forced to conduct same-sex marriages (and if anyone suggests that they should be, I’ll have equally strong words for them).

    How about this: churches can have “marraiges”, which are NOT recognized as legally binding by the government, and anyone who wants a legally binding acknowledgement of their relationship, along with all legal rights and limitations that it confers, gets a “contract of civil union”.

    For those who would like a refresher on the Biblical definition of marriage, check out Betty Bowers’ overview:

  • karys

    Duane K,

    It is, indeed, your constitutional right to disagree with the fact that marriage rights are constitutionally due to all. It is also my constitutional right, if I choose to exercise it, to disagree with your constitutional right to make that assertion in a public forum.

    It is not our constitutional right to prevent those rights from being exercised.

  • Steve

    yes i do think it belongs in mn politics and is a viable part of american life.

  • bob

    Reasoned discourse has a place; hyper-heated exchanges that pass for debate should have no place.

    Unfortunately, we’re stuck with the latter, just as we are on every other controversial issue.

  • Khatti

    Gay marriage is a political issue. How could it not have a place in Minnesota politics?

    I support gay marriage but, not being gay myself, it isn’t my political masturbation of choice. It’s an abstraction of the: “If their freedoms are prohibited, my freedoms could also be prohibited” variety. I certainly don’t have the NPR attitude that gay and lesbian marriages are the only marriages that should be countenanced!

    Which brings me to the point I always bring up when this subject arises: If gay/lesbian marriage should be countenanced, then so should Mormon polygamy (or any other form of polyamory) should also be countenanced. What is the argument against it? Gays and lesbians are the good deviants and Mormons are the bad deviants; give me a break here!

    In addition, gay and lesbian support for polyamory could turn Mormon foes into Mormon allies. If not allies perhaps the Mormons could be turned into less enthusiastic detractors.

  • Khatti


    One of the criticisms of right-of-center types like yourself is that you want the government to leave you alone, but you want it to prosecute people you find disagreeable, simply because you find them disagreeable. I’m afraid you’ve proven that particular criticism quite valid today.

    By the way I’m an ignorant farm boy, I’ve never figured out what DTOM stands for. I assume DT stands for “Death To”, I haven’t figured out yet who you want to die.

  • Duane Kvittem

    Although I feel it is wrong to call out specific posters on this blog, I feel I must reply since it was done to me. To the first poster who said the State IE Supreme Court, cannot force a church to perform a marriage between persons of the same sex, was right, however, I believe they have made some ruling regarding the hiring of a homosexual person by religious organizations. The second poster said “it was simply true that civil union did not provide the same rights as a marriage”. Be specific please, no generalities. this weakens your point. A third poster confuses constitutional rights with personal feelings. If they disagree with the current laws, than there is a process to change it.

  • Rich in Duluth

    No. This issue belongs in the courts. They should determine the constitutionality of gay or any other kind of marriage.

    I see the gay marriage issue, along with the abortion issue as just part of the Republican strategy to get the average person to vote against his own interests and in support of the interests of big business, the real constituent of the Republican Party. Obviously, it was a brilliant strategy, considering all the people who have fallen for it.

  • Al

    Duane – My response to your statement was not that that civil unions do not provide the same rights as marriage. The statement was that there are not civil unions in Minnesota. We don’t even have them.

    A sampling of specifics that are different that cannot be changed through legal documents obtainable by the couple:

    1. state income taxes

    2. family hunting and fishing licenses

    3. property rights

    4. health benefits if one member of the couple is employed by the state

    5. decisions regarding the body and funeral arrangements of a deceased same sex partner (particularly important when a gay person is estranged from their family)

    Until very recently, hospital visitation was not a right of a same sex partner.

    Would you a like a few hundred more? The research has been done by law students and about 515 specific differences in Minneaosta statutes have been identified.

  • Paul Sitz

    The debate over same-sex marriage definitely has a place in Minnesota politics. But the more relevant question is “Should the dabate over same-sex marriage have a place in Minnesota politics?” I fear that until the voters stop rewarding those who demagogue on this and similar “wedge issues”, we will continue to see these things as a prominent part of the “debate”.

  • Dianne

    Yes, it does and the discussion should begin with separating the civil marriage from the religious marriage. I am beginning to believe that one of the biggest mistakes this country made was allowing clergy to sign the civil marriage license. States and religions have different “rules” about marriage and neither one’s rules should be forced upon the other. Civil marriage is about the rights that come with that marriage license.

  • Jane

    of course it does ! marriage equality is a critical public policy issue impacting tens of thousands of minnesotans and their families who lack access to hospital visitation, adoption, inheritance, and other critical issues that straight couples take for granted every day. politicians are finally starting to sit up and take notice.

  • James


    I hate to even respond to your comment.

    Like others have posted, negative comments make this forum into a back stabbing frenzy.

    However, I feel compelled to shed some light on your “sheltered farm boy” bubble.

    I do believe the government should be minimized within reason. (Read the constitution)

    I DO NOT believe I have prosecuted ANYONE!

    This is a public forum and this is how I feel… you have your ideas … I have my own.

    When someone jumps up and screams “I’m different —give me money” I say sit down and zip it. We are all in this together and deserve nothing more than what you work for.


    Try this new thing called “research”… maybe

    Also look up the term sheeple …


  • Curt C.

    Until all LGBT people have completely equal rights with the rest of us, you bet there’s a place for dicussing same-sex marriage in any and all political spheres.

  • Sarah Prill

    Yes! As long as there are laws that discriminate against families headed by same-sex couples, it is a pertinent political issue that NEEDS to be debated and addressed by our lawmakers. In fact, there are at least 515 statutes in Minnesota that discriminate against committed gay and lesbian couples and families to small and large extents.

    In order to find out more about these civil rights abuses check out or go see the play, “Project 515,” which is based on some of these statutes and explores how they affect the lives of Minnesotans. It opens this Thursday at Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis and runs until October 10th.

  • Kevin VC

    Diversion Politics.

    We have people out of work, a non-funded dislocated worker program that is broken, and people loosing their homes….

    I’m sorry, but this is just politics to get people worked up and loose track of things that are ruining peoples lives, and putting up a smoke screen to the needs of those least able to get help.

    Personally I think Personal relationships do not have a place in politics, at least not until the least of us are taken care of.

  • bman

    Same sex marriage and natural marriage are not based on the same ethical principles. In fact, their underlying ethical principles are opposites.

    Same sex marriage denies that people should marry to have sex, to have children, or to parent children. It sees marriage as two [and eventually more ] persons entering a contract for reasons of their own regardless of being male or female.

    By contrast, natural marriage is between one man and one woman and its much more than a contract. Its a matter of moral, social, and spiritual responsibility for having sex, having children, and parenting children.

    A same sex marriage law does not simply permit the old ethic to continue along side the new. Once the older generation passes with the new generation in place, marriage would no longer be viewed as a matter of moral, social, or spiritual responsibility but as a matter of individual preference.

    The “ethic” behind natural marriage protects the nation from a spiral increase in unwed childbirths that would become a source of crime, poverty, disease, welfare, and such things.

    One that ethic is lost, the protections would be lost also.

    On benefits: Its fair to give benefits only to natural marriage because benefits encourage a practice which protects society from unwed childbirths. Its like a company that gives coupons to buy its product. If you don’t buy the product, you can’t use the coupon. If a couple does not wish to advance the interest of society through natural marriage, it should not qualify for the same benefits.

    Besides, if government gave unmarried couples or same sex couples the same benefits as married couples, it would be working against its own purpose to promote natural marriage. That’s like Coke allowing you to redeem its coupon even if you buy Pepsi.

    And whenever government works against its own purposes, it needs to be fixed.

  • bman

    All LGBT people have completely equal rights with the rest of us if they choose to meet the same conditions the rest of us have to meet.

    Marriage laws are not based on “orientation” but on biology, i.e., whether one is male or female. If government refuses to recognize “orientation” that is not a matter of equal rights because marriage has never been based on orientation for anyone.

    Marriage law views same sex partners simply as men and women who can marry an opposite sex partner or choose to be single, just like every other man and woman who makes that choice.

    Equality means you get the same rules applied to you on the same basis they are applied to everyone else. That basis is not orientation but biology.

    Orientation should not be a basis for rights because unlike race, which is both a static state and objective state, orientation is a subjective state that is fluid, and has different ranges for different people.

    Additionally, orientation is unlike race because race has nothing to do with rights to a special behavior that is different from the behavior of the rest of society.

    If equal rights were given to any behavior based on race, that would be discrimination.

  • scott

    No… if I think carefully about it…it is an equal rights issue and should probably be left in the courts.

    That some people want to constitutionally deny rights to a group of people is abhorrant.

  • The fact that some politicians have introduced this subject into the state discoure again reveals a serious and fundamental flaw in their understanding of this country’s governmental system. This is NOT a democracy, where there is allowed a tyrrany of the majority. It is a democratic republic, where basic human rights are guaranteed to everyone, and “voting” on them is absurd. The Declaration of Independence says “all men are created equal”, and the long journey of this country seems to be that of recognizing they those words are literally true, not you are equal if “you are white, straight, Episcopalian, and own a penis”.

    The long arc of history is towards freedom for all, and the provincal Republican Right Wing of 2011 is going to be laughed at, as on the wrong side of history, as were those who favored slavery, and denied the right to vote for women. It’s only a matter of a very short time, (10 years at most) when these sad people will be seen as anachronistic reactionaries, and their decendants will be embarrased to claim them as their own.