Minnesota marriage bills advance through committee, will face House and Senate consideration

Yesterday, bills that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in Minnesota advanced through key committee votes in the MN House and Senate. After hearings in the morning and the afternoon, where dozens of marriage supporters shared their stories of why marriage matters and why all Minnesotans should be able to share in the freedom to marry. From former Republican MN Rep. Lynne Osterman's moving testimony about regretting her vote against marriage in 2004 to Jim Lawser and Duane Bandel's plea to have their relationship of nearly 30 years respected in their home state, the committee hearings demonstrated the importance of the freedom to marry to so many people in Minnesota. 

Yesterday afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the marriage bill by a vote of 5-3. Republican State Senator Branden Petersen, a co-author of the bill, appluaded the move. He said:

The passage of Senate File 925 through the Senate Judiciary Committee today is a historic moment for the State of Minnesota. I am proud to be a co-author on this commonsense, comprehensive legislation that will provide equal protection under the law to all Minnesotans. No matter one's personal or religious beliefs, the question is not what the government's role is in marriage, but rather, is it our responsibility to treat people equally under the law? As a strong proponent of limited government, conservative principles and individual liberty, I believe that it is.

I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill. We all know that these families exist. By extending marriage to those families we extend the stability, and commitment that we all know marriage offers. This will benefit all Minnesotans, both families and kids.

Last night, the House Civil Law Committee advanced the House version of the bill by a vote of 10-7. The bill's chief author, Rep. Karen Clark, trumpeted the triumph, saying:

It is clear that the momentum across Minnesota to see this legislation passed into law and signed by Governor Dayton this session is strong and growing by the day. Minnesotans everywhere are coming to the conclusion that treating others as we would want to be treated - equally - is the right thing to do. In 2013, we finally have the opportunity to ensure that freedom means freedom for everyone. When this legislation comes to floor of the Minnesota House of Representatives for a vote, I look forward to spirited conversation with my colleagues ending in our decision to extend the basic freedom to marry to same-sex couples all across Minnesota. 

The bills will now face consideration by the full Minnesota House and Senate. 

Minnesotans United for All Families has been leading the effort to move marriage forward in Minnesota for the past several years. In 2012, they galvanized amazing support to bring Minnesotans from all across the state in unified opposition to an anti-gay ballot initiative that sought to permanently limit the freedom to marry to different-sex couples. Now, they're working to complete the evolution by passing marriage for same-sex couples in 2013. MN United's Campaign Manager Richard Carlbom celebrated the momentous steps forward yesterday in a release, saying: 

In less than 12 hours, Minnesotans have watched as history was made today. This evening's vote in support of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples makes it clear: Minnesotans don't turn our backs on family, and we know that it is wrong to exclude certain people from marriage just because of who they are or who they fell in love with. Same-sex couples pay taxes, vote, and run businesses in Minnesota. They take care of each other, raise children, and serve in the military here - and as such, they should be afforded the same freedoms as anyone else and be treated fairly under the law. Minnesotans United applauds the leaders Legislature who are working hard to get this bill passed every day. 

Votes on the marriage bills are expected in the House and Senate in the coming months. 

If you missed the committee hearings, check out seven of the moving testimonies HERE.