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Gay-marriage bill has votes to pass Minnesota House, sponsor Clark says

Rep. Deb Hilstrom conferring with Rep. Karen Clark
MinnPost photo by James Nord
Rep. Deb Hilstrom conferring with Rep. Karen Clark during Monday evening's Ways and Means Committee meeting.

What could have been a tough fight Monday for gay marriage supporters turned into a brief, uncontroversial committee stop to address the small fiscal impact of the bill —paving the way for a likely floor vote on Thursday.

As this year’s legislative session wraps up, the gay marriage vote is expected to be the final divisive issue Democrats tackle alongside the state budget.

DFL lawmakers who support the measure say they have the House votes to pass it, while opponents deny that’s true.

The bill, which already passed through a committee in both legislative chambers, had to be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee after lawmakers received analysis of the bill’s fiscal impact late last week. It passed on a voice vote after fewer than 10 minutes of discussion.

Afterward, Democrats on the committee congratulated Rep. Karen Clark, who is carrying the legislation.

“One more stop,” Rep. Alice Hausman said as she hugged Clark, a DFLer from Minneapolis.

Clark told reporters after the meeting that the uneventful vote and lack of discussion mean smooth sailing for the controversial legislation. She said she’s optimistic people are seeing a change in Minnesota.

“We will pass this bill,” she said on Monday. “Yes we will.”

That’s a completely different message from the one opponents of the measure delivered Monday at a midday press conference.

Minnesota for Marriage, the main group opposing the gay marriage legislation, crowded a group of opponents into a Capitol conference room to highlight the troubles other states have had after legalizing gay marriage.

City clerks from New York, which legalized gay marriage in 2011, discussed how their faith clashed with the requirement to issue marriage licenses.

A husband-and-wife team who run a farm told reporters how they started to receive negative publicity and eventually a human rights complaint after refusing to hold a gay couple’s ceremony there.

Cynthia Gifford, who runs Liberty Ridge Farm in New York, said small-business owners shouldn’t have to choose between “our religious beliefs … and our family income.”

She and other same-sex marriage opponents said lawmakers in New York bought the lie that there would be religious protections included in the gay marriage legislation there.

So far, the Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said Minnesotans should be similarly concerned.

“Our Legislature bought the lie, and today we’re living the lie,” he said.

Jason Adkins, Autumn Leva and Professor Teresa Collett
MinnPost photo by James NordFrom left, Jason Adkins, executive director of Minnesota Catholic Conference, Minnesota for Marriage spokeswoman Autumn Leva and Professor Teresa Collett of St. Thomas University Law School at Monday's press conference.

Jason Adkins, vice chairman of Minnesota for Marriage, told reporters that House lawmakers don’t have the votes to pass such legislation. Clark, the sponsor there, said she’s confident that the votes exist.

A series of rural Democrats who were on the fence have voiced their support for the bill in recent weeks. Clark said she’s also had conversations with Republicans but demurred when asked if any would be supporting the bill.

She said it’s likely more votes than supporters need would come spontaneously on the House floor.

The House Rules Committee will take up the legislation today to place it on the Thursday calendar for floor debate. Both sides will be battling behind the scenes to line up last-minute votes until then.

“Just stay tuned,” Clark said after the Monday hearing. “I think it will be a wonderful story to follow in the end. There’ll be lots of good stories.”

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Comments (23)

Ready to make some history, Minnesota?

Marriage equity is coming.

Thank you to every YES vote.

As a mom with a beloved gay son, I want to thank every legislator who is voting for his freedom to marry. We want for him what has been so precious to us. I want you all to know how grateful I am as I know this has been a difficult vote for many of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. May you feel the joy you have brought to families like ours.

Thank you

So many Minnesotans owe a debt of gratitude to families like the Reitans who have embraced not only their own children with love but who have taken the time to reach out statewide and show all of us the true value of unconditional acceptance and love. Minnesota is a better place because of those families!

Now is the time

THIS is the WEEK to stand for love for all Minnesotans!

Re: "[Cynthia Gifford] who

Re: "[Cynthia Gifford] who run[s] a farm told reporters how they started to receive negative publicity and eventually a human rights complaint after refusing to hold a gay couple’s ceremony there.”"

Well, it's a good thing Cynthia hasn't faced lynching, having her kids taken from her, concentration camps, institutionalization, physical attacks, being legally disowned, gays and lesbians have. She'd completely fall apart.

Marriage Equality is Coming Indeed

And as a committed process theologian and progressive Christian, I can only hope that when it does,...

my "conservative" Christian friends and neighbors will then be able to focus their efforts on more useful things,...

perhaps even seeking to discover and do the works of love and mercy among and with the friends and neighbors,...

while delivering strong prophetic admonishment against the entrenched, wealthy, powerful and self serving religious, government, and business leaders of our own day,...

as Jesus did with those same leaders in his own day,...

all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,...

and give up their continuing efforts to force those friends and neighbors to live up to the dogmas and dictates of churches and a God that they, and their ancestors, have created in their own image,...

while steadfastly avoiding saying or doing anything which might offend the rich and powerful who hold out the illusion that they will be helpful in keeping their coffers filled if they are treated well enough.

Check out Catholic Charities

Seems like they've done one or two things that would qualify as love and mercy, especially among the poor and refugees.

Some Christians have tried the strong prophetic admonishment (President Clinton, Hollywood, etc.) and gotten the smackdown that most readers here agree with.

Please name the offending religions and churches that have created their own God and force people to adhere to their made-up rules, I'd to find that I belong to one.

People like Mary Jo Copeland do a wonderful job of doing works of love and mercy while at the same time offending the Strib, local sports teams. downtown business owners, and the like.

If you look for good you will see it everywhere around you.

Aren't you describing process theology?

Creating a changing God and the dogma and dictates that go along with it sounds more like a belief formed in the last century rather than one passed down for thousands of years. And why would people who don't believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God call themselves "Christians"?

Of COURSE I'm Describing Process Theology

The Bible itself, Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, document nothing more nor less than the process by which God constantly called God's people to change and growth,...

and changed the nature of God's relationship with humanity as our ability to comprehend God, ourselves, each other, and the world around us advanced.

Jesus, himself, represents a MAJOR shift in the nature of the relationship between God and humans - a shift we're STILL trying to grow into under the guidance of the Advocate, or the Holy Spirit if you prefer.

Whenever ANY church organization attempts to nail God into a box, requiring either the worship of their institutional perspectives (because they're so ANCIENT, as if that were any indication of their value for our own day and time),...

or the worship of the Bible itself (as if God stopped communicating with humanity once the canon was closed),...

is ignoring God and daily blaspheming the Holy Spirit in favor of established human ideas and ideals.

God's essential nature, as shown in the life, ministry, teachings and attitudes of Jesus, does NOT change,...

but the way God relates to humanity, God's methodology, DOES change as WE change.

To believer otherwise would to believe that we, ourselves, should never stop treating our own children as if they were two years old, which does, indeed, seem to be some peoples' approach,...

but that approach doesn't generally lead to healthy, happy families, or children who grow up to be well-adjusted, functional adults.

I will leave it up to you to determine whether your church asks you to act and think as if you were a two-year-old,...

but please don't confuse the reality that for you to place the faith of a two-year-old toward his parents in GOD directly makes perfect sense,...

while placing that same unquestioning faith in any of those humans who claim to be God's earthly representatives or any of the religious organizations they represent is always and inevitably a terrible mistake.

Has humanity changed that much?

Sure we have computers, cars, space travel, etc., but has the understanding of and our relationship with God really changed that much (given the vast amount of time that the universe has been around, let alone God)? Maybe there are a new ten commandments besides the one asking us to love one another, (but that was given by Jesus, who process theology seems to discount as just another person) but they still seem applicable after all of our advancement.

OK, but...

the DFL sould then prepare to return to minority status in at least one legislative body in 2014 if they do this. I'm pretty sure some rural DFLers will lose their seats over this, even if they vote "no." Apparently legislators who support this bill think this issue is worth returning to budget impasses, underfunded educational and social services, and public sector union-bashing - because that's what one of the predictable results will be.
Oh, and the rich and powerful, i.e. big business, have been increasingly vocal in their support of this issue. Whatever this bill is, it isn't a blow against the rich and powerful.

We should applaud the rural

We should applaud the rural DFL legislators who risk their seats to do the right thing - it's the true test of legislative leadership and is so rarely exercised we forget that it's why we elect them.

Again, OK...

...but I don't want anyone who supported this bill to whine when the new Republican legislature won't fund child care or medical assistance two years from now. Apparently this is worth it. That's all I'm saying.

I really don't see why we

I really don't see why we shouldn't "whine" about that when it comes up, aside from some rando setting arbitrary rules. The republicans are wrong about not funding childcare, they are wrong to oppose same-sex marriage, they are wrong about a lot of things. That doesn't absolve liberals of the responsibility to do the right thing.

I've spent a lot of personal and professional time getting DFL majorities in the house AND to defeat the marriage amendment, and this bill is a just use of the political capital we've been building. To put the civil rights struggle of our time on the back burner simply to maintain our majority for a couple of years is cowardice. If you're looking for legislators who decide their vote based on their chances of being re-elected, well, there are plenty in the legislature doing just that. I don't think anyone looks up to that behavior.

We could wait for a time that's more politically advantageous, absolutely. Activists are used to hearing that the time for our issue is a session, a year, a decade away. That's not Minnesota. We are the state which hasn't voted for a republican president since 1976. We are the state that has gone from the marriage amendment to a breath away from legalizing same sex marriage in just two years. We are Paul Wellstone's state. This is the right time, this is the right place, and we are the right people to close this shameful chapter.

Marriage equality as a fact of life is in our future. Four marriage amendments lost in 2012, eleven states already have same-sex marriage on the books and more are on the way. The next generation will see this time in history as the tipping point, and wonder that marriage inequality was ever the political football it has become. Because of people like Rep. Radinovich, who is absolutely risking his career to be on the right side of history, Minnesota is leading now instead of following later.

What is public service, really?

We need to have a serious conversation about what it means to be a public servant. A NY state town clerk came to Minnesota to say that issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples is "against their religion."

To which I say: swear to uphold the constitution and the laws of New York (or whichever state) or quit! Good golly, the freedom to practice your religion is a private matter between you and your deity(s). If the thing you are ordered to do so offends your conscience, you should quit in protest.

As for the operators of the farm, their issue appears to be with their state's non-discrimination law. If the farm owners said they wouldn't host a Hindu wedding because they were a Christian business, I think it would be pretty clear that they are discriminating against a customer in the provision of a public accommodation based on bias. Same is true for gay and lesbian couples.

If you hang out your "open" sign to the public to offer a good or a service, our country has (slowly, and at times painfully) come to the right conclusion: that denying service, wether a lunch counter, a hotel room, or a wedding, in a public business, is discrimination.

In keeping with another tenet of our society, we do say that houses of worship may, in their free exercise of religion, deny a marriage to any two they wish. The claim by the Rev. Jason McGuire that they were misled about the religious exemption rings false to me. It's been clearly communicated in each state where this has been take up that the exemption is for churches, synagogs, etc, not for-profit businesses.

Liberty Farms

Here are just a few factoids I pulled up on Cynthia Gifford's Liberty Ridge Farm. Gross revenue is about $500,000 through agri-tourism and a corn maze they grow. They employ 100 people seasonally.

Just curious

What was the fiscal analysis of the bill? 10 minutes discussion for what I would assume will be millions of dollars of cost to the state and perhaps lost from the revenue stream seems rather cavalier.

Negligble Cost To The State

Actually,the cost of processing additional marriage license applications is neglible and is offset by additional fee income received. There is no forecast "loss from the revenue stream" to the state of Minnesota. I am not aware of any analysis of same sex couples wedding spending but obviously, legal same-sex mariage will surely have some benefit to businesses serve the wedding industry simply because there will be more weddings.

Cost in perspective

The other estimated cost to the state would be incurred if state employees married their same sex partners and added them as dependents for insurance purposes. Estimated costs were for several hundred thousand dollars to pay the employer's portion of coverage. This amount is miniscule compared to the cost of insuring dependents of current state employees. Since we have contractually agreed to pay part of the benefits for some employees families , it seems mean spirited to exclude others.

And married filing jointly

Won't reduce the revenue the state receives as opposed to two single filers? The loss of "death" tax income?

Finances are no reason to oppose what many call a civil rights issue, but I'm not sure that the "unintended consequences" were really considered in ten minutes of discussion.

It's not always about the money

If the only consideration in keeping a law in place is to uphold discrimination in order to increase revenue, then there's some serious ethical issues here. So, yeah, finances are no reason to oppose a civil rights issue, and therefore discussion on the unintended consequences shouldn't happen at all. Besides which, it's not like most of the people who are in favor of passing a marriage bill that puts gay couples on the same legal footing as straight couples simply decided that morning "hey, I think I'll vote this way." This issue has been on lots of peoples' minds for YEARS. DECADES for some. Those unintended consequences have come up before. They might even be the reason that we're only now getting around to treating gay people as people. There are only so many times people should pause to listen to the "but what abouts" before they realize that it's just a way to prevent everyone from getting to the real issues and answers.

We shall see

What the unintended consequences are, but probably not for a couple of decades. The courts and our schools will start providing some answers and if we start down a slippery slope where we end up is anyone's guess. Just imagine, after THOUSANDS OF YEARS it took just one election.

Thousands of years of what?

Thousands of years of what? The institution of marriage is drastically different from what it was even a few decades ago. Divorce, miscegenation, property rights, changing perspectives on marital rape - these are just some of the radical changes to the institution of marriage. The notion that the modern form of marriage is "thousands of years" old is frankly bogus.