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Same sex marriage (SSM), civil unions, etc. in Minnesota

Part 12:
2013-MAY: Text of the SSM bill. A House
vote is scheduled. Amendment proposed.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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"SSM" is an acronym for Same Sex Marriage.
"LGBT" is an acronym for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals.
"DFL" is an acronym referring to the Democratic party in Minnesota.

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2013-MAY-07: Current text of HF 1054, the proposed House bill to legalize SSM:

If the bill becomes law in its current form, the clause in the current marriage act that permits faith groups to refuse to marry a couple based on their religion, or to refuse employment, the use of facilities, etc. to lesbians, gays or bisexuals would be retained.

The main changes to the existing marriage act would be:

  • A new clause would be added to allow faith groups to refuse to provide "goods, services, facilities or accommodation" related to any marriage that violates their religious beliefs. This, for example, would allow the Roman Catholic Church to continue refusing to marry an opposite-sex couple if one was physical disabled, or if they were both of the same sex.

  • An existing clause that permits faith groups to take "any action with respect to education, employment, housing and real property, or use of facilities" that is related to sexual orientation would be retained.

  • The existing phrase "Marriage ... is a civil contract between a man and a woman" would be replaced by "Marriage ... is a civil contract between two persons."

  • An existing clause preventing marriages between people who are too closely related -- e.g. siblings -- would be rewritten to include same-sex relationships.

  • The clause prohibiting same-sex marriage would be deleted.

  • The clause prohibiting the state from recognizing legal same-sex marriages that were solemnized elsewhere would be deleted.

  • "Bride and groom" would be replaced by "parties."

  • A clause referring to "husband and wife" is replaced by "husband, wife, or spouse."

  • A clause is added allowing all faith group to refuse to marry any couple for any reason with impunity.

  • Gender-specific terms such as "husband," "wife," "mother," "father," "widow," "widower," or similar terms in other Minnesota laws would "... be construed in a neutral manner to refer to a person of either gender."

  • A clause would be added allowing same-sex couples who married in Minnesota to obtain a divorce in Minnesota if they had since moved to another state that currently does not recognize their marriage. 7

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2013-MAY-07: The House vote is scheduled for 2013-MAY-09:

Megan Boldt reported some startling news in the Pioneer Press. She wrote:

"Minnesota might be poised to become the 12th state in the nation to legalize gay marriage, as House leaders prepare for a floor vote Thursday, May 9.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said he believes the 73-member DFL majority has the 68 votes needed to pass the bill allowing same-sex couples to wed, even without a single Republican vote.

As of late Tuesday, no GOP House members have said publicly they would vote "yes."

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leaders say they also have the votes to pass a same-sex marriage bill, and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he'll sign it." 3

Richard Carlbom, executive director of Minnesotans United for All Families -- the main group promoting marriage equality in the state -- said that the upcoming votes will be historic ones:

"... that will be remembered for the next 100 years. ... More and more people realize that same-sex couples marry for the same reasons as anyone else. They want to marry the person they love." 3

The Star Tribune reported that Carlbom predicted:

"Thursday's vote in the Minnesota House of Representatives will be a historic victory for thousands of same-sex couples and families in our state." 4

Autumn Leva, spokesperson for Minnesota for Marriage -- the main group who is against marriage by same-sex couples -- said:

"Nothing's really inevitable until after it happens. Things happen on the floor, and we'll see what happens." 3

If the bill passes the House on MAY-09, it would proceed to the state Senate for a vote on Monday, MAY-13. 5

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2013-MAY-08: Amendment proposed:

Rep. David FitzSimmons (R) suggested an amendment to the bill. It would use the term "civil marriage" to cover both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The amendment would also include a clause protecting religious organizations from fines, punishment, or altered status if they discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them.

Minnesotans United support marriage equality, the SSM bill, and its amendment. Its campaign manager Richard Carlbom issued a statement saying:

"Representative FitzSimmons’ amendment affirms the fact that Minnesotans want same-sex couples to have the freedom to marry in our state while also ensuring that clergy members and religious institutions are free to practice their beliefs free from government intrusion. We applaud Representative FitzSimmons for introducing this amendment, and we are hopeful that it will bring even more bipartisan support to House File 1054."

Minnesota for Marriage (MfM) is the main group in the state that opposes allowing same-sex couples to marry. Surprisingly, they issued a statement opposing the amendment. They say that it:

"... does little to protect basic religious liberty rights and could actually narrow the religious liberty protections found in the original bill language." 8

The "religious liberty" to which they are referring is different from the conventional meaning of the term, in which religious beliefs, religious assembly, religious actions are protected. Rather, it is the new and growing meaning of the term which stresses the freedom of believers to discriminate against, oppress, and denigrate others -- mainly targeting women and sexual minorities. They want an amendment added to give individuals like wedding photographers and wedding planners, as well as companies that sell wedding cakes, sell wedding dresses, rent halls for weddings and receptions, etc. to be free to refuse to sell or rent to same-sex couples. Existing human rights legislation in Minnesota and in many other states requires individuals and companies who provide goods and services to the general public to not discriminate on the basis of their potential customers' race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Across the U.S. there have been a few cases where such individuals or companies have been charged under human rights legislation because they refused to work with same-sex couples getting married. Often the long-range financial effect on these individuals and companies is positive. Initially, they may have to pay a fine. However the publicity about their stance often brings many new customers from among social and religious conservatives who support discrimination against the LGBT community and who want to deal with individuals and companies that think as they do.

MfM stated:

"The reason there have been no cases in Minnesota of people being punished for their belief that marriage is between a man and woman is because that is not considered discrimination under current law—but it will be if the same-sex marriage bill passes. ... The same-sex 'marriage' bill will not protect the deeply held beliefs of businesses, non-religious non-profits, licensed professionals ... the list goes on." 8

This seems to indicate that the group's profound lack of knowledge about at least the U.S. Constitution and human rights legislation in Minnesota. There is no way that a person can be punished for their beliefs about marriage. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief. It also guarantees freedom of religious speech so that people can freely speak, debate, and write about their marriage beliefs. It is only when a person takes action on their beliefs and actively discriminates against others that human rights laws become applicable.

MfM concluded:

"Legislators supporting the same-sex 'marriage' bill are telling hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans who believe that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman that they will be classified as 'bigots'." 8

There is nothing in the SSM bill that discusses or promotes bigotry against persons who want to continue to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. However, whenever marriage laws have been changed in the past, a significant part of the population has always resisted change, and have preferred that the previous, more restrictive law had remained in force. This happened after the civil war when African Americans were allowed to marry. It happened at the beginning of the 20th century when laws in some states prohibiting deaf couples from marrying were repealed. It happened in 1967 when the Supreme Court declared that laws in a contiguous group of deep South states prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional. It is happening again as each state attains marriage equality for persons of minority sexual orientations. After the passage of time, it is true that some individuals who urge that these changes be rolled back begin to be regarded as bigots. However, that is determined by the culture itself and not by legislators nor by their laws. Charges of bigotry are one of the penalties of trying to resist equality whenever the majority embraces "liberty and justice for all."

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2013-MAY-08: What is likely in the immediate future?

It was unclear at the time whether Rep. FitzSimmons would personally vote for the bill if the term "civil marriage" is included as well as his clause protecting faith groups that want to discriminate against same-sex couples. However, on the next day, he became one of the four Republicans in the House to support the bill.

As of MAR-08, it was conceivable that a SSM law could be passed by the House on MAY-09, by the Senate on MAY-13, and signed into law by the Governor on MAY-14. However, it was by no means certain. Only an actual vote will settle the issue. Until then, there was only speculation.

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This topic continues in the next essay with the House vote

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Site navigation:

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Doug Belden, "Same-sex marriage could add $45M to Minnesota's economy, report says." Pioneer Press, 2013-APR-15, at: http://www.twincities.com/
  2. Doug Grow, "Gay-marriage supporters making their big push at Capitol," MinnPost, 2013-APR-18, at: http://www.minnpost.com/
  3. Megan Boldt, Minnesota House gay marriage showdown is Thursday," Pioneer Press, 2013-MAY-07, at: http://www.twincities.com/
  4. Baird Helgeson, "Minnesota House to vote on same-sex marriage proposal Thursday," Star Tribune, 2013-MAY-07, at: http://www.startribune.com/
  5. Emma Margolin, "Gay marriage: Minnesota House set to vote," MSNBC, 2013-MAY-08, at: http://tv.msnbc.com
  6. "HF 1054," Minnesota State Legislature, 2013-MAY-07, at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/
  7. Text of the House bill HF 1054 is at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/
  8. "Minnesota for Marriage Opposes Fitzsimmons Amendment to Same-Sex 'Marriage' Bill," Minnesota for Marriage, 2013-MAY-09, at: http://www.minnesotaformarriage.com

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Copyright © 2013, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2013-APR-19
Latest update: 2013-MAY-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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