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Religious Tolerance logo

Same sex marriage (SSM), civil unions, etc. in Minnesota

Part 13: 2013-MAY: Vigil held in Lutheran church.
Demonstrations in Capitol building.
The full House passed its version of the SSM bill.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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"SSM" is an acronym for Same Sex Marriage.
"LGBT" is an acronym for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals.
"DFL" is an acronym referring to the Democratic party in Minnesota.

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2013-MAY-08: A vigil was held in a local Lutheran Church. Prayers and demonstrations were held at the Capitol:

SSM supporters attended a vigil on the eve of the vote at Christ Lutheran Church near the capitol building. Two openly gay supporters, John Stumme and Kyle Hanson, were at the vigil with their children Sofie, 6 and Henry, 3. They were married in California during the brief six month window in 2008 which started when the State Supreme Court legalized SSM, and ending shortly after election day when Proposition 8 terminated SSMs. If the bill becomes law in Minnesota, the gay couple plans to marry again. Stumme said:

"Kyle and I love each other deeply and we want to be married. And we want our children to know that their parents' relationship is no different than any other [married couple's] relationship in the eyes of the state." 8

Pastor Anita Hill, who is well known for her activities promoting LGBT inclusion in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, spoke to the capacity crowd. She is openly lesbian and hopes to marry if the bill becomes law. She said eloquently:

"Tonight we stand on the edge of hope of possibility, and we are here to pray a new reality into being." 8

Many hundreds of people who support marriage equality rallied at the Minnesota Capitol building. Some wore orange T-shirts and held signs stating: "I support the freedom to marry."

Minnesota for Marriage, a group opposed to marriage by same-sex couples, called for prayer and a protest at the Capitol. Many hundreds of opponents turned out. Some of them held up signs saying simply: "Vote No."

Building security was enhanced during the demonstrations. 9 It seems that the only conflicts were verbal and did not escalate into physical contacts.

Demonstrator Ernest Low, Jr. said:

"In the name of Jesus say no!"

Another demonstrator, Patty Taylor, who has been married for 37 years, responded:

"I'm saying say yes in the name of Jesus! ... I'm a proud Catholic saying yes, yes, yes!"

Mary Johnson of Minneapolis said:

"I've been praying for the Holy Spirit to do his work here. I pray that he will hear the small still voice and that he will protect marriage and keep it as one man one woman."

Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry the national group that promotes marriage equality, said:

"As Americans have had a chance to really talk about who gay people are and why marriage matters, and think about their personal values of fairness, we have grown to a significant national majority in favor of the freedom to marry." 13

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2013-MAY-09: The full House passed HF 1054, its version of the bill to legalize SSM:

During the two or three hours of passionate debate, Representative Kelby Woodard (R), who voted against the bill, said:

"We are redefining today in this bill, a definition of marriage that has been a bedrock of our society for thousands of years. We’re asked to empathize with the idea that we should redefine marriage, and I’m asking you to empathize with at least half of Minnesotans who disagree with that. Think about them as well." 12

Senator Warren Limmer (R) who was one of the sponsors of the failed constitutional amendment to ban SSM in 2012-NOV, continues to oppose this bill. Before the vote, he warned:

"This effort doesn't just focus on marriage, It will change how businesses work. It will change how clergy speaks from the pulpit and it will also affect school curriculums in reflecting gay marriages." 10

He is certainly correct about two of his three points. If the bill becomes law, then those businesses that have health and other plans for spouses of employees will now be protecting married same-sex spouses as well. That is a natural result of marriage equality. Another change will be that schools will be expected to mention to students that both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can marry in the state. For schools to keep this secret from students would neglect part of their education. However, he appears to be wrong on his third point about restrictions on the freedom of clergy to promote discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees absolute freedom of speech for clergy. It also guarantees the separation of church and state. As a legislator, he should have been be aware of that.

Rep. Tony Cornish (R) explained why he planned to vote against the bill:

"I am not a homophobe, or a Neanderthal, or a hater. My constituents back home, the majority of them wanted me to vote that way." 12

That comment might not go over well among some of his constituents; they might assume that Cornish considers them to be homophobes, Neanderthals, or haters.

The amendment proposed by David FitzSimmons (R) passed. It adds the word "civil" before marriage to clarify that only the legal definition of marriage would be affected by the bill. It would have no impact on the many definitions of "marriage" held by various faith groups. If the bill is passed into law in its present form, it will establish a win-win situations for Minnesota churches and citizens:

  • Liberal faith groups will have the religious freedom to marry same-sex couples in accordance with their theological beliefs about human sexuality. Typically, liberal and progressive faith groups accept the conclusions of professional psychological, psychiatric, and human sexuality associations that all three sexual orientations -- homosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality -- are normal, natural, and morally neutral.

  • Conservative faith groups will be able to continue to discriminate against sexual minorities as a result of their interpretation of the six "clobber" passages in the Bible. They will be able to continue to refuse to marry same-sex couples and continue to advocate discrimination against them.

  • Lesbians, gays and bisexuals will be able to marry their same-sex partners who they love and to whom they wish to make a lifetime commitment.

  • Heterosexuals and bisexuals will continue be able to marry their opposite-sex partners who they love and to whom they wish to make a permanent commitment.

When the roll was called, the bill passed comfortably with a vote of 75 to 59: 9

  • Four Republicans and 71 Democrats voted for the bill.

  • Two Democrats and 57 Republicans voted against the bill. 12

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Karen Clark, said:

"I am anticipating a big celebration, I am just very grateful and happy." 10

She also said:

"It's become clear that most Minnesotans believe that marriage is a unique promise of love, commitment, responsibility and fidelity that two people share. that we believe in Minnesota in treating others the way we want to be treated, and that none of us would want to hold that it is illegal to marry the person we love." 11

Senator Scott Dibble (D) the bill's lead sponsor in the Senate, said:

"I think this sets up tremendous momentum and a really really positive climate and atmosphere for the vote [in the Senate] on Monday [MAY-13]."

As the Senate vote approached:

  • Majority leader Erin Murphy (D) in the House said to pro-marriage equality supporters:

    "Please keep working, and know that after Monday [when the Senate votes on the bill], we’re going to have to continue the work, have the conversation with everybody in Minnesota as we move in the direction of freedom for all."

  • House Speaker Rep. Paul Thissen (D) said:

    "We have to get through the Senate, we have to get the governor’s signature, but it can’t end there. We have a lot of people who stood up today to do the right thing, and we are going to need to stand with them in the future, and I know you’re going to do that, because that’s how we got here together. So please don’t go home and let this … end."

  • Rep. Karen Clark (D), the bill's lead sponsor in the House, said:

    "My heart is going strong. When you love something and love somebody and love the people, I’m grateful to be part of this process. It’s so much bigger than me and even all the people in here. It’s just really about what that incredible energy out there is, which is love. That’s what it’s about." 14

Democrats hold a 39 to 28 seat majority in the Senate. One of the bill's sponsors is a Republican who will probably vote for the bill. Advocates on both sides are calling for public demonstrations at the Capitol on Monday.

Commenting on the attainment of marriage equality in recent weeks by both Rhode Island and Delaware, an editorial in the Star Tribune stated:

"Minnesotans should be proud to be in such good company. It speaks volumes about our sense of fairness to be among the pioneering states on this important equal-rights issue." 12

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This topic continues in the next essay with the Senate vote

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Doug Belden, "Same-sex marriage could add $45M to Minnesota's economy, report says." Pioneer Press, 2013-APR-15, at:
  2. Doug Grow, "Gay-marriage supporters making their big push at Capitol," MinnPost, 2013-APR-18, at:
  3. Megan Boldt, Minnesota House gay marriage showdown is Thursday," Pioneer Press, 2013-MAY-07, at:
  4. Baird Helgeson, "Minnesota House to vote on same-sex marriage proposal Thursday," Star Tribune, 2013-MAY-07, at:
  5. Emma Margolin, "Gay marriage: Minnesota House set to vote," MSNBC, 2013-MAY-08, at:
  6. "HF 1054," Minnesota State Legislature, 2013-MAY-07, at:
  7. Text of the House bill HF 1054 is at:
  8. Matt Sepic, "Crowd gathers in advance of House vote on same-sex marriage," MPR News, 2013-MAY-08, at:
  9. "Gay marriage passes in Minnesota House," USA Today, 2013-MAY-09, at:
  10. David Bailey, "Minnesota House votes to advance same-sex marriage bill," Reuters, 2013-MAY-09, at:
  11. Minnesota House vote is a win for marriage equality," Star Tribune, 2013-MAY-09, at:
  12. Monica Davey, "By a 75-59 Vote, the Minnesota House Approves a Same-Sex Marriage Bill," New York Times, 2013-MAY-09, at:
  13. David Bailey, "Minnesota House set to vote on gay marriage bill," Reuters, 2013-MAY-09, at:
  14. Doug Grow, "Same-sex marriage: Celebration, anticipation fill Capitol in hours before Senate vote," MinnPost, 2013-MAY-13, at:

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Copyright © 2013, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2013-MAY-07
Latest update: 2013-MAY-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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