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Gay Marriage Bill Unveiled at Minn. Capitol

Posted at: 02/27/2013 4:46 AM
Updated at: 02/27/2013 6:27 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Minnesota lawmakers unveiled legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state, and although it has bipartisan support many Republicans still oppose the changes.

Current state law does not recognize same-sex marriage, and that is why supporters are calling today “historic.” For the first time ever, a bill that allows gay couples to get married in Minnesota will be introduced in the House and Senate.

Sponsors of the bill held the announcement on Wednesday in St. Paul where several interfaith leaders and same-sex couples with children joined them.

Rabbi Michael Latz said he has officiated more than 200 marriages, but his relationship with his partner is not recognized by the state.

“We are a family in the eyes of god. We were legally married in Canada on Michael's parents' 50th anniversary last June,” Latz said. “In my home state of Minnesota; the place where I was born, where we live, work, pay taxes and raise our children; we are legal strangers.”

The bill hits the floor of the legislature Thursday, but Republicans already say they'll vote against it.

Senator Carrie Ruud represents Aitkin County and Crow Wing County. She said her constituents voted overwhelmingly to ban gay marriage in the last election.

“My position on that is that I'll represent my district and vote against the legislation,” Ruud said.

She said the bills could raise budget costs as state employees request partner benefits, like health care.

“I've always felt that if a company wanted to provide the benefits that's wonderful, but taxpayers that don't believe in that shouldn't have to,” Ruud said.

Religious freedom is another concern for opponents of the bill, but sponsors of the legislation said churches won't be forced to perform same-sex marriages.

Governor Mark Dayton has vowed to sign such a bill, and if he does weddings could start in August.

The push to allow same-sex marriage is stronger than ever, but opposition has not faltered either. The future of marriage in Minnesota will come down to a vote at the state capitol.