Minnesota Senate passes marriage equality ban

Minnesota Senate passes marriage equality ban

By a vote of 8-4 (along party lines) the Minnesota Senate Judiciary committee has passed a bill that would place a voter initiative to ban same-sex marriage in the state on next year’s ballot.

Hundreds of Minnesotans jammed a Capitol hearing room to argue for and against a constitutional amendment, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

From the Minnesota Independent: Sen. Barb Goodwin, DFL-Columbia Heights, said, “I will never in this Legislature, will never vote — even if it means I’m voted out — to put language of discrimination in the constitution.”

“I could not live with myself, and those of you who claim to be good Christians, you need to think about what you are doing here,” she added.

But Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, said the issue isn’t about discrimination and civil rights: “Marriage isn’t a right. Nowhere in the federal Constitution or the Minnesota Constitution is marriage considered a right.”

Sen. John Harrington, DFL-St. Paul, said the measure does nothing to support the principles the nation was founded on. “I cannot see in this bill anything that promotes life, anything that promotes liberty — if anything, it seems to restrict liberty. I cannot see anything that will promote the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “It sends a chilling message that it is OK to discriminate. It sends the message that gays in Minnesota are ‘less than.’”

Sen. Goodwin suggested that, if supporters wanted to preserve the “sanctity” of marriage, the bill should also support a ban on divorce in heterosexual marriages. She proposed tweaking the text of the bill to add the words “for life” — limiting marriage to one per person per lifetime. Her effort failed, which she said illustrated that the bill “isn’t based on an issue of how sacred marriage is — it’s an issue of discrimination.”

The bill now moves on to the Senate Rules committee.

Stay tuned.