Minnesotans react to Iowa marriage decision


by Andy Birkey | April 5, 2009 • With same-sex marriage legal just over Minnesota’s southern border, many groups concerned about the issue feel it will have an impact on Minnesota. But while marriage equality advocates hailed the decision, they were quick to note that Minnesotans shouldn’t try a legal challenge similar to Iowa’s.

Andy Birkey lives in Minneapolis. He is an LGBT community advocate and blogs on politcial, social, and community issues. Read his blog at Eleventh Avenue South

Amy Johnson, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization: “This powerful ruling from our neighbor to the south will have a positive effect on the conversation regarding marriage equality in Minnesota,” “Travel east or west, and you run into states with constitutional prohibitions on all forms of legal recognition for our families. Travel north or south, and you run into jurisdictions with full marriage equality. We at OutFront Minnesota believe that our neighbors will see that Canada and Iowa have provided us the better example of how to address the legal issues faced by same-sex couples and their families.”

On whether Minnesota would follow suit: “We believe Minnesota’s past negative court rulings make clear that the best route to full marriage equality runs through the legislature and governor, and not through the courts.”

Chuck Darrell, communications director for the Minnesota Family Council told the Minnesota Independent: “The decision in Iowa points to why Minnesota needs a marriage amendment. Recently, Sen. John Marty boasted that marriage would be legal in Minnesota in the next three to four years. Minnesotan’s need to heed his warning as activists have begun a two-pronged attack to legalize homosexual marriage in
the legislature and, like Iowa, in our courts. People need to call their legislator and tell them we need a marriage amendment and vote no on any and all bills designed to legalize homosexual marriage and marriage-like benefits.”

Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Minneapolis: “Minnesotans are proud of our tradition of fairness and decency. We value equal rights and oppose discrimination in all forms – but we are not free of it. Some Minnesotans have fewer rights than others, which is why the issue of marriage equality has become a leading issue. It’s crucial that we have open public discussion about same sex marriage in Minnesota.

We’re having that debate in the legislature. Several weeks ago I introduced a bill requiring the State of Minnesota to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The bill does not require same-sex marriage in Minnesota, but acknowledges that other states have done so. Other bills would use a variety approaches to address same-sex marriage and domestic partner benefits.

Deciding to expand the definition of marriage to include all citizens is a matter for the court of public opinion–not just a court of law. Approaching same-sex marriage through legislation is the best way to give the public the final word. In the end, the decency of Minnesotans will win out, and our state will acknowledge the importance of equal rights and reject discrimination. This is a much better outcome than letting judges decide the matter without broad public support.”

Project 515, an LGBT advocacy group: “We are thrilled that a neighboring state has joined the chorus of national voices calling for equality. But given the extra legal battles that could occur from court challenges in Minnesota, Project 515 continues to believe the best way to achieve equality is through the actions of a pro-equality legislature and governor.

There are at least 515 instances of discrimination against same-sex couples and families that exist in our state laws today, and several bills are being considered by legislators this session that would begin to correct that discrimination. We urge Minnesota policymakers to remain focused on what’s before them now and pass the bills that would immediately begin to treat Minnesota families with the fairness and equality they deserve.”

Minnesota Majority sent this email to their supporters: “Today the Iowa Supreme Court issued a decision overturning Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), thereby legalizing homosexual marriage in the state of Iowa.

Minnesota’s DOMA law is under similar attack. Liberal legislators have introduced a bill to legalize homosexual marriage in Minnesota (see bill number HF983). Similar to Iowa, a homosexual group is preparing to file a similar legal challenge to Minnesota’s DOMA law (see MarryMeMinnesota.org).

The only chance we have to protect marriage in Minnesota is for the state legislature to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment (see bill number HF1824). This bill would allow the people of Minnesota to decide whether marriage should be permanently defined as the union of one man and one woman.”