Survivors of deceased domestic partners would soon have the power to inherit their partners’ remains, if Gov. Tim Pawlenty signs a bill headed his way in the closing days of the legislative session.
SF 341 from Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, and Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, passed the Minnesota House of Representatives 78-55 on Tuesday and the Minnesota Senate 41-24 on Wednesday and is headed to Pawlenty for his signature.
The bill would write domestic partners into Minnesota law for the first time and give them legal status when it comes to inheriting remains and suing the state in the event of a wrongful death claim.
Murphy said the bill repeals two of 515 provisions in Minnesota law that discriminate against committed couples.
The House vote comes on the same day that three same-sex couples filed a lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s marriage laws, which require a marriage to be between one man and one woman.
Pawlenty’s spokeman, Brian McClung, told Minnesota Public Radio that the bill was “unnecessary and seems to be a political exercise to get the term ‘domestic partner’ into state law,” raising the possibility that Pawlenty, a likely 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, would veto the bill.
Republicans accused DFLers of bringing the socially controversial bill to the floor to distract attention from the state’s $3 billion budget deficit, but Murphy said repealing discriminatory laws shouldn’t be controversial.
Several rural DFLers voted against the measure, leaving it well short of the number of votes required to overturn a Pawlenty veto, if it comes.