‘Historic’ hearing on the Freedom to Marry in Minnesota

February 18, 2010

The House Civil Justice Committee will be the first in Minnesota’s history to conduct a hearing on the possibility of legalizing the freedom to marry in the state. Three bills will be up for discussion on Monday, and all three are supportive of expanded relationship rights for Minnesota’s same-sex couples.

The Marriage and Family Protection Act would make marriages in Minnesota gender neutral. A civil unions bill is also being proposed and another bill would honor marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states where it is legal, such as neighboring Iowa.

“The hearing will be historic because it is the first time a committee in our state Legislature will be looking at what enacting marriage equality means for Minnesota,” said OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBT equality group.

The hearing will be held at 4:30pm on Monday, February 22 in State Office Building Room 10.

Outfront says, “supporters of marriage equality will speak about what it would be like if our state no longer explicitly barred same-sex couples from legal protections. Legislators will hear from experts and their constituents that discrimination against people because of who they love or who they are is wrong.”

But not everyone in the LGBT community is pleased about the hearing. Citizen activist Doug Benson, who secured legislative support for the Marriage and Family Protection Act, called it a “show hearing” because there will be no vote taken on the bills so they won’t advance out of committee.

“There won’t be a vote on our bill because one of the bill’s likely yes votes left the committee for reasons I am not aware of,” he said. “It’s basically a show hearing to shut us up.”  [Link]