The Minnesota State Senate today passed the marriage equality bill by a vote of 37-30, following four hours of debate. State Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) voted no on the issue. Only one Republican, Senator Brandon Petersen, voted in favor of the bill, while three DFL Senators voted no (Dan Sparks, Leroy Stumpf, and Lyle Koenen).
Governor Mark Dayton has indicated he will sign the bill, and a signing ceremony is planned for 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon on the South Side Capitol Steps. Minnesota will be the 12th state to institute marriage equality.
Rumors were swirling before the vote that Ortman, who had been consistently opposed to marriage equality in recent sessions, may be reconsidering her position. At times during the debate, she was spotted conferring with Senator Scott Dibble, the bill’s author. Hanging over Ortman’s vote was the notion that she might be a candidate for higher office in 2014. Recent speculation has indicated that she may be looking at the race for U.S. Senate against Al Franken.
The Republican base is strongly opposed to marriage equality. Polling from January shows 79% disapproval among Republicans, which likely makes the path to endorsement difficult for a marriage equality supporter.
The marriage equality bill passed the Minnesota State House of Representatives today 75-59. Four Republican Representatives voted in favor of the bill: Jenifer Loon (Eden Prairie), Andrea Kieffer (Woodbury), Pat Garofalo (Farmington), and David FitzSimmons (Albertville), while two DFL Representatives voted against it: Patti Fritz (Faribault) and Mary Sawatzky (Willmar).
Carver County Representatives Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), Ernie Leidiger (R-Mayer), and Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen) all voted no, even after FitzSimmons’s amendment to rename all references to “marriage” in Minnesota statute as “civil marriage”, thereby providing additional reassurance that religious institutions would not be impacted by approval of marriage equality.
As previously noted, voters in both Hoppe and Pugh’s districts voted against the marriage amendment last November so they are swimming upstream in this regard. Pugh’s vote is a distinct contrast from her district, as 33B voted against the marriage amendment by 17 points – -the third largest margin of the 21 House Republican districts that voted against the amendment.
[Picture of the voting board above courtesy of Leanne Kunze’s Twitter stream.]
The Minnesota House of Representatives will vote on H.F. 1054 — the marriage equality bill — on Thursday. The movement of this bill to the floor is a signal from leadership in the DFL majority that they have the necessary 68 votes to pass the bill, as Speaker of the House Paul Thissen has indicated he would not bring the bill up for vote unless there was sufficient votes to pass it.
In recent weeks, there has been substantial movement among rural DFL legislators towards the bill, including Hinckley’s Tim Faust and Crosby’s Joe Radinovich just within the last few days. With passage seemingly assured at this point, the interesting thing to watch will be if any suburban Republicans vote yes on the bill as well. 21 House Republicans — including Chaska’s Joe Hoppe and Chanhassen’s Cindy Pugh — represent districts that opposed last November’s marriage amendment. As of now, none of them have publicly indicated their support for marriage equality.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk says he has sufficient votes in his caucus to pass the bill in that chamber as well, but does not intend to bring the bill to the floor until after the House vote. Governor Mark Dayton has indicated he will sign the bill if it passes both chambers.
Ten states currently have marriage equality, and Delaware’s legislature is also voting on the issue this week (with passage expected).
Meanwhile, negotiations designed to produce a compromise budget between the House, Senate, and Governor are ongoing. As noted previously, untangling the three tax plans is likely to biggest source the most difficult challenge faced by the negotiators. With less than two weeks left in the session, the pace is likely to be rather hectic to get through all the necessary business by then.
Mike Frey, the pastor at Northern Lights Baptist Church in Waconia, emerged as the viral celebrity of yesterday’s hearings on the marriage equality bills at the State Legislature thanks to his colorfully inaccurate testimony in the House Civil Law Committee. Here are some key excerpts, where Frey attempted to argue public health concerns:
When there is ejaculation into a vagina, there is a barrier there, as in your packet it states there, of a cellular tissue that doesn’t allow the sperm — that has an enzyme at the head of it, to penetrate the blood flow. It is designed to go to the egg — that enzyme is designed to burn the outside membrane of the egg cell — go inside the egg, and then deposit the DNA. We call that conception.
When ejaculation occurs inside of a colon it is a highly absorbent material, the cells do not have a barrier for the sperm and those enzymes to enter into the bloodflow. When the enzymes enter into the bloodflow and a continued, prolonged, um, environment to that happens these enzymes into bloodflow it causes what we know as AIDS — acquired immune deficiency syndrome. …
There is an example in Los Angeles County, California, where among the gay community a rash almost like boils, and a very raw skin broke out on the hands, feet, butt, mouth of these gay communities and they couldn’t find a cure for it for a long time.
Frey’s medical information here isn’t exactly correct. Let’s set the record straight.
First off, the vagina doesn’t have a barrier that prevents HIV/AIDS transmission. In fact, because there is more surface area in the vagina and the fact that sperm can stay in the vagina for hours or days, women are about twice as likely to be infected from unprotected heterosexual sex than men are.
Frey’s California anecdote appears to be referring to an outbreak of community-acquired MRSA in 2005-2006. There’s nothing gay-specific about MRSA, as it most typically occurs in hospital settings, while other breakouts have occurred in places where folks live in close quarters (prisons and military barracks), and among folks who frequently get small scrapes and cuts (football players, for instance, are 17 times more likely to get MRSA than a person in the general population).
[UPDATE]: Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie follows the money behind Frey and Northern Lights Baptist Church.
[Image is a screengrab from MN House video feed]
The marriage equality bill, S.F. 925, had a hearing today in the Senate Judiciary Committee. State Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) was part of the party-line vote on the bill, with all five DFLers voting in favor of the bill and all three Republicans voting against the bill. The bill is now eligible to vote to the full Senate for a vote.
In the 2012 election, Ortman’s SD 47 voted in favor of the amendment, earning 51.4% of the votes. However, the results sharply varied from the eastern side of the district to the west. The eastern portion of the district, House District 47B, voted against the amendment (only 45.4% voting yes), while the western portion of the district, House District 47A, had 57.5% voting yes. It will be interesting to see if the dynamics in 47B play a role in influencing State Rep. Joe Hoppe’s vote. Hoppe voted in favor of the amendment last session.
The counterpart bill in the House, H.F. 1054, had a hearing this morning in the Civil Law Committee that will continue tonight. State Rep. Cindy Pugh, who represents northeast Chanhassen as part of District 33B, sits on that committee. Pugh is a solid “no” vote on marriage equality.