Marriage equality bill still alive in Legislature


The Marriage and Family Protection Act is still alive in the Minnesota Legislature, but Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, the bill’s chief author in the House, says it’s unlikely it’ll make it far this session. But with same-sex marriage legal in Iowa and domestic partnerships protected in Wisconsin, pressure is building in the DFL controlled Legislature to deliver some relationship rights for the key LGBT constituency.

Having been submitted last session – the first part of a biennium – the same bill will be continued during this session, Kahn said.

A committee hearing is seen by some, including Sen. John Marty, the state Senate’s sponsor, as a way begin thoughtful debate on the issue.

“We are looking at having a hearing,” Kahn said, but she says whether that happens rests with LGBT-rights groups. “That will depend on what the advocates want.”

Doug Benson of Marriage Equality Minnesota, the group behind the bill, says he’s lobbying to get the bill passed in the Legislature. OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy group, says it will take 3 to 5 years to get such a bill passed. With Gov. Tim Pawlenty openly hostile to any expansion in relationship rights for same-sex couples, the groups are hopeful that a new governor in 2011 would be more receptive to the idea.

Would the bill pass the House or the Senate this session?

It’s unlikely in both cases. And Kahn said even passing it out of a committee would be difficult, if not impossible.

“We do not believe we have the votes to pass it out of committee, and we’re not sure what value a negative vote would have,” she told the Minnesota Independent.