The Minnesota Legislature is set to
consider a bill to legalize gay marriage in the state, but few
believe it has a chance of passage.
Senator Scott Dibble, a member of the
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, is the lead sponsor of SF1210, a bill
that would grant gay and lesbian couples in the state the right to
marry. It has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee chaired by
Senator Mee Moua (DFL). The 9 member committee is composed of 4
Republicans and 5 Democrats.
But gay marriage in Minnesota remains a
contentious issue where neither side can claim to have gained much ground on
the issue. Bills that sought to ban gay marriage by defining
marriage as a heterosexual union in the constitution died in the
Legislature in 2004 and then again in 2006. Gay rights advocates
failed last year to pass a gay marriage bill. Both sides have said
they would be back in 2009.
Lawmakers have approved laws that
prohibit gay marriage and the recognition of legal gay marriages or
similar unions performed elsewhere.
In a bid to win over detractors, the
bill distances itself from endorsing being gay. The bill states that
nothing in it “mean[s] the state of Minnesota condones
homosexuality or bisexuality or any equivalent lifestyle,” or the
promotion of it in the public school system.
Dibble, an openly gay man first elected
in 2002, told WDIO, an ABC affiliate, that he sponsored the measure
to “have [a] public conversation about just how much is at stake
for some families.”
Recognition of gay and lesbian unions
is being debated in 10 statehouses this legislative session. Gay
activists believe they are most likely to gain the right to marry in
Vermont and New Jersey this year.
Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty has
previously stated his opposition to gay marriage.