Is now the time for lawmakers to take action that would redefine marriage in Minnesota?

Legislation to make same-sex marriage legal in Minnesota has cleared its last committee in the state House, and a long-anticipated floor vote could be coming by the end of the week.

House DFL leaders still are not revealing their plans for the bill or whether they have the 68 votes needed to pass it. Senate DFL leaders say they have the votes to pass the bill, and may even take it up ahead of the House. The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled its own review of the bill’s fiscal note for later this morning.

Advocates on both sides of the issue have increased their lobbying efforts. Opponents of the bill gathered Monday at the Capitol to highlight what they see as a significant flaw in the proposed legislation. They claim it would inadequately protect the religious liberties of people who do not support same-sex marriage.

Today’s Question: Is now the time for lawmakers to take action that would redefine marriage in Minnesota?

  • This isn’t about “redefining” marriage. It’s about we, as a society, recognizing the basic fact that homosexuality occurs in the natural world in about 5-10% of most all mammals, including humans. It’s recognizing that we, in 2013, have more information and evidence upon which to make decisions. There’s no rational reason to think that a bunch of bronze-aged goat herders who put pen to parchment to record their myths had any special insight into human sexuality. When those same people got the very basic moral question of slavery wrong, why would we give any credence to their holy book?

  • Emery

    Marriage is worth rewarding with tax and survivor benefits because it is
    a good bargain for society. Marriage partners provide child and elder
    care in return for tax benefits worth much less.

  • radicalhw

    If civil marriage confers civil benefits, it must not discriminate. The time for marriage equality is NOW, not later.

  • Jim G

    Yes. Today is always a good day to start treating citizens fairly with equality and justice for all.

  • It’s always the right time to do the right thing.

    • Lance

      Corollary: It’s never the right time to do the wrong thing.

  • uhhh … duhh!

  • Steve the Cynic

    I support marriage equality, but….

    Politically, it would be a bad move for the DFL right now. Those who voted against the proposed amendment based on assurances that gay marriage would still be illegal in MN, without whom the amendment probably would have passed, will feel betrayed. Expect blowback and charges of overreach if the DFL does this.

    It would be better in the long run if they wait until after the 2014 election, when public opinion will probably be more solidly behind it. Doing it now, just because it’s right, will provoke resentment and make it harder to do other things necessary to undo the conservative overreach of the Pawlenty years. An overly zealous pursuit of the ideal gets in the way of obtaining the optimal.

  • Equality shouldn’t be considered a “Political move”. It’s the right thing to do. I can’t believe in 2013 we’re still voting about equality. This should be a no brainer. Everyone deserves to marry the person they love.

    • Steve the Cynic

      Whether it “should” be considered a political move is irrelevant. Like it or not, it is a political move. Everything the legislature does is political. Unless you think we’d be better off with a dictatorship, politics is a necessary evil.

  • Rich in Duluth

    Yes, we should always be looking for ways to expand rights in this country, not limit them.

  • Gayle

    “Lawful marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex.” – MINN. STAT. § 517.01. This provision was passed as part of the 1997 Omnibus Health and Human Services Appropriations Act. They were wrong then, and they were wrong with the proposed Amendment 1 this past fall.

    It is never too early or never too late to fix a wrong. It is never too early or never too late to affirm basic civil rights and constitutional protections. The time to fix this wrong is now.

  • justplainbob

    I didn’t think so at first, but the time is now. Let’s do this, Minnesota.

  • Wally

    Sure, then polygamy, then pedophilia, and then . . ??? The sky’s the limits, or maybe I should say “the abyss.”

    • James

      Why is polygamy wrong? It’s accepted in the bible. I can think of a lot of reasons that have to do with the structure of our society but at least we wouldn’t have the child brides that seem so prevalent in the “underground” polygamy groups.

      Pedophilia is wrong. It damages another person. Why do opponents away want to link pedophilia and homosexuality. The two are completely unrelated.

    • Spitting on biggots

      You forgot incest wally, but then making the analogy between homosexuality and pedophilia has to come from a brain disorder in the offspring of first cousins.

    • KTN

      You also forgot bestiality. Certainly there is a straight line between the two.

    • Cashed Out

      Really Wally? Polygamy & pedophilia? Has that been the result in any other state or country that has acknowledged same-sex marriages? Or are you just a tad bit over-stating your concerns? If you toned it down a notch, and calmly walked us through your position, it might be more beneficial to your “cause” than your history of hysterics.

  • Vernoy Levy

    Homosexuality is a sin.

    • Rich in Duluth

      So, what does that have to do with tax filing status, visitation rights, inheritance, and other legal issues?

    • KTN

      Are you without sin? Since you are not, what part of your life can I try to rule based on my prejudice?

    • Cashed Out

      By what authority? I don’t see any reference to it in the 10 commandments.

  • david

    I have no idea if politically it’s good timing or not. I hope never to know enough about politics to be able to answer that question. Life is too short and summer is finally here. It does make me feel better seeing many of our elected people coming to the realization that they put their hand on the bible and swore to uphold the constitution and not the other way around. Just imagine how further along the evolutionary time line we would be if certain people’s magical thinking wasn’t affecting the rest of us. And I just like anything that makes rednecks squirm.

  • Max

    Yes. The state has an interest in regulating marriage because it has an interest in property rights and the welfare of dependents. Homosexual couples have property and dependents so the state should have just as much interest in regulating their relationship as it does for heterosexual couples.

    And before someone brings it up, procreation is not the reason the state has an interest in marriage. That is a legal fiction. The state cannot regulate reproduction in individuals so why would that be a basis for regulating marriage?

  • Rae Ann

    I have no problem with same sex couples having the same rights and benefits as married couples. I do resent and reject redefining our language and word definitions to suit a vocal minority. Why not call a tree a house or just rewrite our entire language if it does meet with your expectations. Move on, there are far more important issues at hand in this country!

  • Cashed Out

    This is a civil rights issue. The faction that is trying to make this a religious issue are not listening to the (non-Roman Catholic) religious mainstream clergy nor are they taking a mainstream reading of the Bill of Rights – the 1st Amendment protects us from another’s religion. Many of the arguments against are rehashed versions of the mixed-race marriage debates in the ’50’s and ’60’s. This will be settled by the legislative body sooner or by the courts later. In either event, the tide is past the point of no return. It is only a matter of time until same-sex marriage carries all the same benefits and penalties as male-female marriage. If not now, when.

  • Sutton S.

    This quesiton is loaded. Allowing same-sex marriage is not a single redefinition of the term but another milestone in the evolution of what marriage means. Practices such as polygamy and giving dowries are customary in other societies and have a place in the history of the Western idea of marriage. They are not part of the idea of marriage anymore, but that used to be the definition of marriage. After all, language is defined by the culture and society of its use, and the evolution of both are intrinsically linked. This society is evolving to accept same-sex marriage, and it is my firm belief that our legislature should acknowledge this trend and vote in favor of same-sex marriages.

  • Ann M

    It is time to take the word “marriage” out of all gov’t documents.Schools should not be teaching children what marriage is.When the word “marriage” is no longer used by the gov’t, the definition of marriage can remain private.Gays could use whatever term they wanted for their unions.They took on the term “gay.” They can find a word for union.If you are talking about “rights,” then SINGLE people should have all of the same rights. It is time that single people got tax breaks and the same rights that gays are getting.Single people are now a large part of the population and should not have to be in a government union to get rights. Single people,let’s go to St. Paul and get our rights!

  • We don’t need to redefine marriage itself, we really just need different words for these things, since people seem to get confused.
    If you want to get “holy matrimony married” in a church or whatnot, great! Walk down the aisle, say I do, kiss the bride while an old man watches, and Bang! God-given-green-light-to-have sex-and-babies for you!
    HOWEVER, it should have nothing to do with “legally married” where you go to a government office, fill out paperwork, sign your names, and qualify for benefits.
    If you want both legal and Godly recognition, then do both!
    If you and your religion want to deny the fact that same-sex couples are just as capable of loving, committing, co-habitating, and parenting successfully as anyone else is, that’s their right! That’s your right! Nobody’s stopping you! I don’t really care, because you’re the one who’s gonna have to awkwardly explain that one to your mortified grandchildren in a few decades, and I don’t like you very much!
    But the lovely thing about SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE is that LEGALLY we can give the same rights and responsibilities to everyone equally, without it affecting the outdated, repressive religious practices you still cling to! Win-win.

  • Gary F

    But when will Jason Collins admit to being a Timber wolf?

  • Just Another MN Family

    It is time for lawmakers to take action that would bring about
    marriage equality. Our kids deserve the same rights and protections as
    the kids who have opposite-sex parents. Which of her two Mamas should
    our daughter do without? And our unborn child? The answer is easy –
    NEITHER. We created our family together, both of us are our children’s
    parents, and neither of us is dispensable.

    Marriage equality
    is a concept long overdue. Stop messing with our taxes, stop burdening
    our families. We are here, we have many of the same hopes, dreams, and
    fears as every other family. We pay the same taxes – oh wait, we
    actually pay more taxes because we have to pay discrimination taxes too
    in order to provide our family with healthcare.

    Above all, we
    are just as worthy as any opposite-sex family. Our children deserve to
    feel secure. We as a married couple and as parents deserve to feel
    secure. We shouldn’t have to worry about losing our family home if one
    of us dies, because of the taxes that the surviving parent would have to
    pay. The surviving parent should be just as eligible for the social
    security supports as an opposite-sex parent would be. We shouldn’t have
    to jump through hoops and be made to adopt our own children before being
    legally recognized as the parent.

    There are so many reasons why marriage equality is needed, just a few of them highlighted above. Do the right thing, Minnesota.

  • Sue de Nim

    As one whose opinion has “evolved” along with our president’s, I have some advice for those who have been on the “pro” side for a long time: Don’t trash the considered opinions of those who disagree with you. Most of those who oppose legitimizing homosexuality are not the Fred Phelps type of raging bigots. My change of mind came hard, largely because I resisted casting my lot with those who were spouting hatefully derisive rhetoric against my Christian faith. And even today, I’m hesitant to take a public stand for gay marriage, because I don’t want my friends to associate me with the extremists on the “pro” side. Conversely, one of the factors that made me willing to move was my revulsion at the hatefully derisive rhetoric against gays by strident conservatives. But it was only in dialog with respectful and thoughtful people on the “pro” side that I was able to see another side of the issue. Strident rhetoric does your cause more harm than good. Before my “evolution” on this issue, I was not any more stupid then than I am now, I was not a bigot, and I did not have a quasi-mental illness (“homophobia”). I had good reasons for holding the opinions I held then. As the old saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  • Lawrence

    As some one whose ancestors were shipped here under barbaric inhumane cruel seafaring vessels, then told to work the fields or die, and then transferred from physical slavery to political slavery, before finally earning a place here in America, I can say this from that experience — There will never be a RIGHT time to make marriage equal because some fraction of the people that oppose equality today will oppose it years to come. That’s why blacks were not freed following the Civil War. This IS THE TRUE LEGACY of the African American experience — a reminder, know matter how much people feel guilty about it that injustice breeds on when you decide to wait until everybody is ready for justice. It is nobody’s business who wants to marry whom except the people who are getting married. We may not like the match (I don’t Kim Kardashian with anybody); we may think that marriage is an affront to God (or the one Tiger Woods had with his ex-wife), and we may think we’re not homophobes (although actions do speak louder than words), but at the end of the day, marriage is something two people enter into when they decide that they will commit to each other for the remainder of their lives. Nobody asks to commit to an entire society by marrying their sweetheart, and we shouldn’t be asking gay people to do that.

  • Christopher

    Yes, however marriage goes beyond just same and opposite sex. It’s not fair to have a person just choose one or the other since non-monogamy is a preferred and sustainable relationships style and marriage option practiced throughout the ages as well as by many today.

  • Janell

    Yes, I have been in a 29 year committed loving relationship, it is time to let us marry. We just want what other married couples have.

  • Yes it is I am happily married but everyone should be able to afford the same rights as we enjoy.

  • It is way overdue. Marriage rights have been guaranteed in Iowa for nearly three years now. The last time I checked, Iowa hadn’t been consumed by fire and brimstone. Today I am a very proud Minnesotan!

  • Arielle

    I believe that civil marriage must be passed to allow the same rights that my husband and I have to be extended to loved ones who have also been in long term, committed relationships. This is a civil rights issue, and I believe Minnesota will be on the right side of history today! So proud of those who are supporting human rights for all. Waiting and anticipating that love will prevail today!

  • HeidiHo

    For sure! There will be political consequences, but this is an election off-year. People who oppose same-sex marriage will have at least a year to see that the sky has not fallen, same gender married couples now get the legal protections (and hassle!) that others do, children are being better provided for (and protected) due to applicability of divorce laws, etc., etc.

    I’m just glad that this change in the law permits me more freedom to follow my religion, which permits (in fact, even encourages) same gender marriage. It’s about time!

  • LDinMN

    We aren’t redefining marriage. We are making an official statement that marriage in Minnesota is about love. Marriage is about two adults that love each other making a union. It’s not about two people of the opposite who only have a valid marriage if they produce their own child. In our hearts, I think we all know that marriage is about love.

  • Jim

    From my perspective, the definition of the relationship that I have with my spouse will change if the union between people of the same sex are included in the new definition. When I married 35 years ago, it was understood that marriage was a union between a man and a woman. If this law passes, marriage will not be defined in the same way. The definition will be broadened to include couples of the same sex. I am not suggesting that I should have rights that are not available to other people. But to call the relatiionship that I have with my opposite sex spouse, the same as the relationship that a same sex couple would have, is not reasonable and shifts me into a group that I do not want to be a participant in. I understand that there are many shared aspects in these two different relationships, but there are still significant distinctions. I suppose I could begin to call the relationship I have with my spouse something other than marriage. But that doesn’t seem to be fair in my mind. My spouse and I were here first, it seems fairer that the new kids on the block should be required to define their own relationship and call it something else.

    • Rachel

      You were “here first” so that means you get more rights than I do? What kind of logic is that?

      “I (a white person) was ‘here first’ so it’s not fair that a person of color’s vote counts as much as mine!”

      “I (a man) was ‘here first’ so it’s not fair that women are paid equally to me.”

      “I (a white person married to another white person) was ‘here first’ so it’s not fair that this interracial couple gets equal protection under the law.”

      Good job.

  • Joyful

    Ya – duh!

  • BruceChris

    I would not say that this is the time to redefine marriage, I would suggest that this is a good time to broaden our understanding of
    what is a man, and what is a woman. A man has XY chromosomes, and a
    woman has XX? But there are men with XX, and women with XY, and some of
    us don’t have either. Our bodies? But we all have exactly the same organs, they’re just arranged differently. And our behaviors? Our manifestations as LGBT, as well as straight are as God created us, they’re not a sin.