Minnesota Marriage Equality Hearing on Monday
February 19, 2010
On Monday, February 22, the Minnesota legislature will hold a historic hearing to consider a same-sex marriage bill. If signed into law, the Marriage and Family Protection Act would render Minnesota marriages gender neutral. At the hearing, the House Civil Justice Committee will discuss the marriage act, as well as one bill proposing civil unions and another bill to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. The latter bill is significant, because same-sex marriages are now legal in five states, including neighboring Iowa. Washington D.C. may begin performing same-sex marriages as early as March. Although no vote will be taken, OutFront Minnesota is lauding the hearing as a historic step towards marriage equality. However, Doug Benson, the citizen author of the Marriage and Family Protection Act, is writing off the hearing as a “show” to assuage same-sex marriage proponents. Same-sex marriage is currently outlawed by Minnesota statute, but there is no such ban in the state constitution. In 1971, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the statute limiting marriage to heterosexual couples does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The case, Baker v. Nelson, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Required to hear the case under an earlier system of appellate review, the Court dismissed the appeal in a terse, one-sentence decision. The hearing will be held at 4:30pm on Monday, February 22 in State Office Building Room 10. Thanks to HRC Law Fellow Aaron Friedman for this post.