Minn. Senate OKs gay marriage; governor to sign
Updated On: May 13 2013 07:19:53 PM CDT
Minnesota jumped the last big hurdle on its way to becoming the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage.
A bill allowing same-sex couples to get married passed through the state Senate 37-30 Monday, just days after the state House passed it. It allows same-sex weddings beginning Aug. 1.
Gov. Mark Dayton has already said he plans to sign it.
The bill changes the term "marriage" in Minnesota law to "civil marriage." That term will apply across the board; there will be no legal distinction between heterosexual and same-sex couples who enter into a civil marriage.
That comes with all the benefits heterosexual married couples currently enjoy, from joint tax filing to family hospital visitation rights.
"We can start planning our wedding," said Cindy Killion, the board president of the LGBT Resource Center for the Seven Rivers Region.
Killion and her partner live in Wisconsin. But now that same-sex marriage is one signature away from being legal in Minnesota, that's about to change.
“We probably will move to Minnesota so we can be legally recognized as a couple. We had a ceremony 17 years ago and we're registered as domestic partners in Wisconsin, which provides a few benefits, but not nearly the whole package that we get when we can get married legally," said Killion.
The Minnesota state legislature has voted to expand the definition of who can get married from "a man and a woman" to "two persons."
But religious institutions like churches are legally allowed to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
"It's awkward. It's tough," said Senior Pastor Rick Iglesias of Pleasant Valley Church in Winona.
Iglesias said there are many active members of Pleasant Valley Church who are openly gay, but same-sex marriage at the church is a no-go.
"Would we marry a gay couple? We would not, based on very strong, deeply-held religious views," said Iglesias.
He said it's frustrating when people mistake his religious convictions for intolerance.
"You're really seen as, 'Well, you're just the bigots,’” said Iglesias. “Wherever you find yourself, you need to be respectful of various viewpoints. It's a democracy. I'm thankful that it isn't like everybody has to go lockstep believing the same thing.”
The state Senate defeated an amendment Monday that would have allowed businesses with religious objections to deny services like reception halls and wedding cakes to same-sex couples getting married.
Last week in the House, Democrat Rep. Gene Pelowski voted yes. Republican Rep. Gregory Davids voted no. On Monday, Republican state Sen. Jeremy Miller voted no.
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