Citing his support for traditional
marriage, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill Saturday that
would have allowed gay couples to control the remains of a loved one.
The measure, known as the Final Wishes
bill, called for the state to recognize gay and lesbian couples as
Under Minnesota law, only married
surviving spouses can decide what to do with the remains of a loved
one. The bill would have extended such rights to domestic partners.
It would have also allowed a partner the right to sue to recover
funeral and hospital costs in the event of a wrongful death.
the bill, Pawlenty, a Republican, said the bill “addresses a
nonexistent problem” because gay and lesbian couples have the
option of drawing up a living will.
He also said he rejected the measure
because domestic partners should not have the same rights as married
“Marriage – defined as between a
man and woman – should remain elevated in our society at a special
level, as it traditionally has been,” Pawlenty said. “I oppose
efforts to treat domestic relationships as the equivalent of
traditional marriage. Accordingly, I am opposed to this bill.”
Ann Kaner-Roth, executive director of
Project 515, a group that lobbied for the bill, said “the
governor's facts are wrong.”
“Project 515 is deeply disappointed
in the governor's refusal to ensure an equal opportunity for same-sex
couples to take care of their families in the darkest and most
personal of times,” she said in a statement on the
group's Facebook page.
“Same-sex couples can't sue for
wrongful death and current law does not provide the same level of
protection for a same-sex partner trying to carry out their deceased
partner's final wishes,” she added.
Advocates also argue that married
couples are not legally obligated to draw up a living will and the
costs of legal documents presents an undue burden.