HRC Blog

Update: Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty Vetoes Domestic Partner Funeral Rights Bill

Disappointingly, on Saturday, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty followed through on his vow to veto legislation granting end of life rights to domestic partners. His veto leaves same-sex couples in Minnesota without the explicit legal right to make decisions at the end of their partner’s life. Last week, the Minnesota House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill amending the state’s end of life statutes to add domestic partners to the list of individuals who may purse a wrongful death claim and who may make decisions about the disposition of remains. Pawlenty dislikes the bill in part because it provides a specific definition of “domestic partner” and if it had become law, it would mark the first time “domestic partner” explicitly appears in Minnesota state law. In order to mitigate negative attention to his actions, Pawlenty incorrectly claimed the bill was unnecessary opining that Minnesota law already protects same-sex couples in these situations. Ann Kaner-Roth, executive director of Project 515, a Minnesota based organization dedicated to ensuring that same-sex couples and their families have equal rights and considerations under Minnesota law, stated:

“We are very disappointed in Governor Pawlenty’s refusal to ensure an equal opportunity for committed same-sex couples to take care of their families in the darkest and most personal of times. Most Minnesotans expect government to treat residents equally…The Governor’s facts are wrong. 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. His comment that the proposed legislation is unnecessary shows he is out of step with the experiences of real Minnesotans.”

Minnesota’s legislative session ended on Sunday night leaving no real opportunity for the legislature to consider overriding the Governor’s veto. Advocates plan to go back to the legislature next session to push for formal relationship recognition. What form relationship recognition takes may depend upon the outcome of elections this fall.

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