Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

Disability advocates briefly disrupt Senate's gay marriage amendment debate

Everyone expected a fiery debate when the state Senate began discussing a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage this morning, and, sure enough, there was a flap in the visitor's gallery.

Senate President Michelle Fischbach recessed the session, after threatening to clear the gallery during the outburst.

But although the gallery was packed with those concerned about the gay marriage issue, it turned out the protesters were speaking out loudly against proposed cuts to disability funding.

Four people were removed from the gallery, observers said, including two in wheelchairs.

ADAPT Minnesota, a disability advocate group, said in a statement that four of its members were those expelled:

"Four members of ADAPT Minnesota were briefly detained and removed from the Minnesota Senate gallery around 10:50 a.m. this morning as they shouted "I'd rather go to jail than die in a nursing home!"! Defending Our Freedom were: Galen Smith, Chris Bell, Nikki Villavicencio-Tollison, and Darrell Paulsen.

"ADAPT Minnesota is a local chapter of a national group of people with disabilities who are fighting for our lives in the community. We advocate and work with other groups. Because our lives depend on it, we also use peaceful direct action when you’re not listening.

"We are demonstrating today because the cuts that the Republican leaders have proposed to Health and Human Services will send us to expensive and unhealthy nursing homes and institutions, keep us from work & community life and cost the state more money!"

Tom Scheck of MPR tweeted that one protester shouted: "I'd rather go to jail than be in a nursing home." 

When the protesters were taken out, the session resumed and discussion on the amendment continued.

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox